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June 19, 2005

Gitmo sutra
Posted by Teresa at 11:40 PM *

Meanwhile, Avram says:

The Gulag that can be told is not the true Gulag.
The Nazi that can be named
is not the true Nazi.

Free from the Gitmo, you see only the manifestations. Caught in the Gitmo, you realize the mystery.

Yet Gulag and Gitmo arise from the same source. This source is called darkness.
Darkness within darkness,
The gateway to all understanding.

Comments on Gitmo sutra:
#1 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 19, 2005, 11:49 PM:

I feel like I'm repeating myself.

#2 ::: Kathryn Cramer ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:28 AM:

From an essay on memory:

Incomprehensible appearances notwithstanding, this is a very simple problem, the Towers of Hanoi. Someone who has learned the Towers of Hanoi may still solve the tea ceremony formulation as slowly as someone who's never seen any form of the problem[13]. A failure to recognize isomorphisms provides one of the more interesting passages in Feynman's memoirs[14]:
I often liked to play tricks on people when I was at MIT. One time, in a mechanical drawing class, some joker picked up a French curve (a piece of plastic for drawing smooth curves--a curly, funny-looking thing) and said, "I wonder if the curves on this thing have some special formula?"

I thought for a moment and said, "Sure they do. The curves are very special curves. Lemme show ya," and I picked up my French curve and began to turn it slowly. "The French curve is made so that at the lowest point on each curve, no matter how you turn it, the tangent is horizontal."

All the guys in the class were holding their French curve up at different angles, holding their pencil up to it at the lowest point and laying it along, and discovering that, sure enough, the tangent is horizontal. They were all excited by this "discovery"--even though they had already gone through a certain amount of calculus and had already "learned" that the derivative (tangent) of the minimum (lowest point) of any curve is zero (horizontal). They didn't put two and two together. They didn't even know what they "knew."
#3 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:56 AM:

A Gitmo detainee pointing to the Geneva Convention is not subject to the Geneva Convention, nor can he pull the Geneva Convention to him

#4 ::: Jas. ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:16 AM:

Assuming this was intended humorously, not bad but not great.
As a parody on the Tao Te Ching, it lacked the inner symmetry with the original
which would have made it a very good parody.
Still, as a means of bringing out the "darkness" of Gitmo, rather interesting.

#5 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:20 AM:

Thirty naked detainees join in a pile:
is where detainees are

When Gitmo detains a suspect
is precisely where there is no food

You cannot open doors and windows in Gitmo
where there is a detainee
for open doors and windows can't detain

Interrogators have no information
Detainees have information

#6 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:30 AM:

Hoods blind people's eyes
Christina Aguilera deafens their ears
Food spoils intelligence gathering

Having information
crazes people's minds

Information hard to obtain
makes me want to attach wires to your genitals

Therefore interrogators desecrate the Koran
and not zyclon gas
Increasing suspense

#7 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:38 AM:

I can't stick around. My last 2 verse were modified from 11 and 12 from the Thomas Cleary translation if anyone adds more. I did the geneva convention line from memory, and haven't found the verse in his translation.

#8 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:41 AM:

And if anyone needs to hear it, I took opportunities to juxtapose abstract and concrete elements in the verses.

#9 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:46 AM:

I would also consider modifying the verse:

Yet Gulag and Gitmo are missing the same lightbulb.
Detainees are placed in darkness.
Informants within darkness,
The gateway to all understanding.

#10 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:50 AM:

Jas, it makes more sense as a followup to Jon H's comments in the Durbin thread.

#11 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:50 AM:

And if it isn't too imposing of me, maybe even:

Free from the Gitmo, you see only the leaked memo.
Caught in the Gitmo, you see the Polaroid flash.

#12 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:19 AM:

On second thought let me withdraw the last 2 comments, if for no other reason then that I have a bad habit of driving the casualness away from a dialogue, which I think they do.

#13 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:40 AM:


When detainees know only hot
this is bad.
When detainees know only cold
this is not good.
So coercion and information produce each other:
hot and cold contrast each other,
hunger and shackled defecation compliment each other,
schizophrenia and isolation conform to each other,
strippers and saddled elderly women go along with each other.

So interrogators harvest information
from detainees regardless of what they know.

All detainees harbor information without exception:
if they are suspected without evidence,
accused for convenience,
and are given no hope of leaving,
then by staying
information will not leave.

#14 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:07 AM:

Avram, you and I graduated from SVA in 1992 with BFAs in illustration.

#15 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:38 AM:

[with apologies to the Gia-fu Fen & Jane English translation of the Tao Te Ching]


In torturing others and spinning others,
There is nothing like using restraints.
Restraints begin with giving up one's own ideas.
That depends on Intelligence gathered in the past.
If there is a good database of Intelligence, then nothing is impossible.
If nothing is impossible, there are no limits.
If a man knows no limits, then he is fit to be a ruler, or at least Secretary of Defense.
If he codify the lack of limits, then he is fit to be Attorney General.
The mother principle of ruling holds for a long time.
This is called having deep roots, family values, and a firm foundation,
The Tao of long life and eternal re-election.


Practice non-torture.
Extract intelligence within the Geneva Convention.
Or at least keep a straight face when you say so.
Taste the tasteless.
Promote the clueless.
Magnify the small, increase the few.
Reward bitterness with co-opted medical care.

See simplicity in the complicated,
as does our Commander-in-Chief.
Achieve greatness in little things.

In the universe the difficult things are done as if they are easy.
Or at least declare "mission accomplished."
In the universe great pyramids are made of small bodies.
The sage does not attempt anything very big,
and thus achieves greatness, except maybe on Social Security.

Easy promises make for little trust.
Taking things lightly results in great difficulty.
Because the sage always evades difficulties.
he never experiences them, nor gets court martialed.


When men lack a sense of shock and awe, there will be disaster.

Do not intrude into their homes or jailcells.
Do not harass them at work or torture them at prayer.
If you do not torture, they will not weary of you.
All bets are off if nobody's taking snapshots.

Therefore the sage interrogates himself but wears no hood.
Has self-respect but is not arrogant.
He lets go of that and chooses this.
Practice saying this, and stick to the story.


Truthful words are not beautiful.
Beautiful words are not truthful.
Good men do not air their dirty laundry in public.
Those who ask hard questions at press conferences are not good.
Give press passes to whores with softball questions.
Those who think that they know are not in the know.
Those who can look into the camera and say that they did not know what a handful of misguided men did, they will stay in office.

The sage never tries to justify himself.
The more he ignores the truth, the more he has.
The more spin he gives to others, the greater his abundance.
The Tao of heaven is pointed, but rarely causes organ failure.
The Tao of Gitmo is agony with no consequences.

#16 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:44 AM:

You are the lens of the Gitmo; the only lens through which the Gitmo can become aware of itself.

The Gitmo, on the other hand, is the only lens through which you may know yourself.

Both lenses together make vision.

#17 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:59 AM:


Voting chickenhawks out of office
dulls al-Qaida recruitment.

Shackling detainees' hands at full-range
allows detainees to get comfortable without scratching.

Covering detainees' eyes
allows them to sleep without seeing their wounds.

Not feeding the insurgency
limits the supply of detainees to extract information from.

Therefore the interrogators of Gitmo
quiet the centrists and feed the backlash,
weaken American credibility and strengthen al-Qaida's resolve,
always referring to innocent women and children as collateral.

Make the sophisticated sound unAmerican;
conformity is peace;
neediness is freedom.

#18 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:01 PM:

Should be "allows detainees to scratch."

I officially have to go.

#19 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:05 PM:

This thread is now seriously creeping me out.

#20 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:06 PM:


Shackling detainees with longer chains allows detainees to scratch.

I gotta go. I gotta go!

#21 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:14 PM:

Seriously creeped 18 posts in -- Woo-hoo!

#22 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 12:20 PM:

Sorry. I tend to see pretense as the most effective shelter of cruelty, so I default to trying to dismantle it.

#23 ::: Mr. C3PO ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:15 PM:


One thousandth of one percent of the Gulag,

Nobody starved to death,

Those released from it free to bear arms against us again,

And we fear we might be doing wrong?



#24 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:31 PM:

Why did Jesus weep?

See Matthew 25:31-46 for the answer. Pay particular attention to verse 40. Verse 46 too might repay further study.


Mr. C3PO, I fear for your soul.

#25 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:35 PM:

Meanwhile, at World o' Crap's site, there was an item a few days ago about Cafe Press now offering "I heart Gitmo" t-shirts.

#26 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 03:44 PM:
1st. This is a question of morals.

2nd. All intelligent acts of a moral agent must be either right or wrong. Nothing is innocent in a moral agent that is not in accordance with the law and gospel of God.

3rd. The moral character of any and every act of a moral agent resides in the motive or the ultimate reason for the act. This I take to be self-evident and universally admitted.

4th. Now, what is the rule of judgment in this case? How are we to decide whether any given act of amusement is right or wrong, innocent or sinful? I answer:

1st. By the moral law, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart," etc., "and thy neighbor as thyself." No intelligent act of a moral agent is innocent or right unless it proceeds from and is an expression of supreme love to God and equal love to man--in other words, unless it is benevolent.

2nd. The Gospel. This requires the same: "Therefore, whether ye eat or drink, or whatever ye do, do all to the glory of God." "Do all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

3rd. Right reason affirms the same thing.

Innocent Amusements

#27 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 04:39 PM:

That the best you can manage, Mr. C3PO? A drive-by under a fake name, and the observation that our gulag is smaller and we don't always kill the prisoners in it?

Would you object if you wound up in such a place? If so, on what grounds?

#28 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 05:52 PM:

James, your third point is not self-evident and universally admitted: specifically, if someone does an evil thing from (what they believe are) good motives, it is still an evil thing. It seems entirely possible, even likely, that some of the people perpetrating these crimes are doing so in the sincere (though mistaken) belief that they are protecting the innocent thereby.

(I realize you're probably quoting, but still feel the need to state my disagreement.)

#29 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:11 PM:

Why is no one adding new verses? Don't leave the Gitmo Sutra to me!


Interrogation is relentless;
its potential may never be fully exploited.

It is as deep as there is information to gather:
It provides more detainees to interrogate,
absolves the money Halliburton took from Saddam Hussein,
measures harmony by conformity,
assimilates the world.

When people stop talking they are withholding information:
I don't know whose abandoned child it leaves vulnerable,
no one wants to be a detainee's kid.

#30 ::: David Moles ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:24 PM:

Not that I'd necessarily agree with Finney in all things, or even many things, but "protecting the innocent" does not necessarily equate to "an expression of supreme love to God and equal love to man".

#31 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:25 PM:


Interrogators are not humane;
the detainee may die before he talks.

Information is not humane;
they reside in detainees, who inconveniently die.

The space between heaven and earth
is as high as the overhead plumbing,
inexhaustible yet undrinkable,
that is a lot water the detainee can't drink.

Detainees talk endlessly
we promise to let them go again and again;
keep him detained anyway just in case.

#32 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:32 PM:

The interrogator is married to his wife
they are heterosexual.

The interrogator's wife confuses him
he is not her interrogator.

If she starts talking to him she will never stop;
that's a lot of information for the interrogator to not care about.

#33 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 06:45 PM:

Please Call Me By My True Names

Don't say that I will depart tomorrow --
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his "debt of blood" to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

-Thich Nhat Hanh

#34 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 07:26 PM:
James, your third point is not self-evident and universally admitted: specifically, if someone does an evil thing from (what they believe are) good motives, it is still an evil thing. It seems entirely possible, even likely, that some of the people perpetrating these crimes are doing so in the sincere (though mistaken) belief that they are protecting the innocent thereby.

Then why reserve the right to continue doing so? Why not hold trials?


Incarceration is eternal, the insurgency is everlasting.

The reason they can be eternal and everlasting is because random detainees won't give us information;
that is why they can last forever.

Interrogators have no information,
and they must retrieve it;
they interrogate,
and are not interrogated.

Is it not by their very selflessness
that they manage not to know anything to interrogate?

#35 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:09 PM:


Anthony Daniels.


You sound more like a combat droid.

#36 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:15 PM:

Mike, you're on a roll. We watch in amazement.

#37 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:39 PM:


Interrogation is like water:
the information retrieved from interrogation benefits all,
and does so whoever the hell the detainee is.

It rests where information dislikes to be,
which is why interrogators have no information.

Where it dwells becomes good ground;
detention is the good in its heart,
information the good it bestows.

Not having information is trustworthiness,
Ignorance in government is deniability;
ignorance in work is voting for Paris Hilton's tax cut,
ignorance in action is Rush Limbaugh offering sports commentary.

But only by not knowing anything
is the right to interrogate reserved.

#38 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 08:47 PM:

To harvest information
is not as good as interrogation.

Calculated sharpness
cannot be kept for as long as detainees.

Though unsigned search warrants fill his house,
vacationing presidents cannot keep them.

When the rich upper classes are drafted,
Hell will be frozen over.

When you get hungry during an interrogation,
it is time to make a sandwich.

#39 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:18 PM:


Carrying interrogation and detantion,
embracing them as one,
can you keep them from parting?

Repeating questions,
Checking for inconsistency,
Like in the back seat of a car asking "are we there yet?"

Like shaking milk not homogenized,
asking "Oh did you want the cream?"

Interrogating detainees, extracting information to be disregarded,
can you say "homogenize" without a spit-take?

As the cell door opens and closes,
can you let leave without letting the air conditioning in?

As interrogation reaches everywhere,
can you watch too much "Columbo?"

Interrogating and detaining,
interrogating without learning,
detaining without discriminating,
detaining without air conditioning:
this is called executive privilege.

#40 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:44 PM:

It seems entirely possible, even likely, that some of the people perpetrating these crimes are doing so in the sincere (though mistaken) belief that they are protecting the innocent thereby.

Protecting the innocent by use of torture doesn't follow from either obeying the commandments of God or from treating our neighbor as we would wish to be treated. Else we fall into "the end justifies the means" which is clearly immoral.

The commandments are listed in Mark 10:19:

"Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother."

#41 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:54 PM:


Generosity and torture are alarming;
Publicity greatly afflicts interrogation.

What are generosity and torture?
Generosity is the lower:
get something and you give it away,
lose everything and you're friends deny knowing you.
This means generosity and torture are alarming.

Why does publicity greatly afflicts interrogation?
The reason we have a lot of trouble
is the ACLU.
If we had no ACLU,
what troubles would we have?

Therefore those who embody nobility
to act for the sake of the world--
accuse them of fraudulently filing for a silver star;
while those who embody love
to act for the sake of the world--
accuse them of fathering a black baby.

#42 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 09:59 PM:

As the Gitmo to the Gulag,
So is the acorn is to the oak.

The acorn knows nothing of the oak.
Yet the acorn will become the oak in time.

An acorn looks nothing like an oak.
Yet the acorn will sprout into a sapling.
The sapling looks little like the oak, save to the trained eye.
Yet the sapling will grow into the oak in time.

Oaks grow to be strong, strong enough to hide the rot within until they fall upon you.
Oaks grow to be heavy, heavy enough to sunder even the mightiest of foundations when they fall upon you.

Such is the hazard of the acorn.
Such is the hazard of the Gitmo.

#43 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:00 PM:

Grr... edit key, edit key...

First line should read:

As the Gitmo is to the Gulag,
So is the acorn to the oak.

Those responsible for the credits have been sacked.

#44 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:13 PM:

Jim, that text you're quoting from kinda creeps me out. "We are the Lord's. We may innocently use both time and money to promote the Lord's interests and the highest interests of man, which are the Lord's interests. But we may not innocently use either for our own pleasure and gratification." It sounds like the justification of the worst kind of moralistic busybody.

#45 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 10:55 PM:

Avram, I'm quoting from a Protestant, who belives in the Total Depravity of Man.

It seems appropriate.

#46 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:00 PM:

The fears of Mr. C3PO, and others like him, are the grist for Cheney's mill. He tells them that only evil ones are detained in his torture cells (which only torture a *certain percentage* of unlucky inmates, anyway).

We try to reason with the C3POs - to convince them that even evil ones are entitled to basic human and civil rights. ....that withholding these rights from _any_ prisoner diminishes us as much as it diminishes him.

The C3POs aren't able to understand that truth, yet. (Order up more plays, stories, songs, and cartoons.)

Pragmatically, I think we need to keep asking the C3POs to work on their bullshit detecters. Ask them to weigh Dick Cheney's distortions of the truth against the counter-evidence that shows Cheney as a liar and a manipulator. What if most of the Gitmo and Abu Ghraib inmates were *not* actually captured on battlefields in the act of opposing the U.S. military?

How do we know who's telling the truth? We have this thing called "trial by jury" that we use for that purpose. The other things: trial by ordeal to see if witches drown, or indefinitely locking up _all_ the shifty-eyed foreigners in the area, (because "they look guilty to me") are *discredited,* *ineffective* examples of bad human behavior that don't solve the problem.

#47 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:03 PM:


Terror memos leaked from when you started a monthlong vacation
are called "historical."

Wives of ambassadors who correct your state of the union address
Robert Novak calls "C.I.A."

Information you don't get when you interrogate detainees
is called "job security."

These three cannot be completely fathomed,
so they merge into the "war on terror;"
creativity is not freedom, generosity is not strength.
Continuous, unnamable, Iraq goes to the Iranian religious ruling-party.

The prelude to civil war is called "last throes of the insurgency,"
you have to tell people something;
this is called deniability.

When you face the president's father you do not see the Carlyle Group,
when you follow the Carlyle Group you do not see deposits by the bin Laden family.

Hold to the Halliburton no-bid
to distract from the money Dick took from Saddam:
only when you know the republican cycle
can you know funds will be raised by selling stinger missles during civil war.

#48 ::: Anton P. Nym (aka Steve) ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:13 PM:

Jim, that site you quote reminds me of Simon Schama's characterisation of Oliver Cromwell's administration as "the Protestant Taliban" in his documentary series, A History of Britain. I think Dr. Schama's observation is bang-on; the parallels of intent, method, and even composition are astonishing.

I'll also point out where said Protestant Taliban ended up after the religious republic collapsed in anarchy and the restoration of the monarchy...

#49 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:27 PM:

Thank you, Josh

... and to Mike for his multiple messages.

#50 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:32 PM:

Mike, when you finish this, you might have a publishable manuscript.

There are many here who might take note of that, and I am not one of them.

#51 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:41 PM:

I sleepy.


Skilled warriors of old were subtle,
mysteriously powerful,
so deep they were unknowable.

And because they are unknowable,
I will take every opportunity to describe myself as one of them.

Their wariness was as that of one calling the Geneva Conventions "quaint,"
their caution was as that of one who denies fighting to preserve slavery;
although you were born and educated a Yankee,
cast yourself as a Southern Lincoln to closet Confederates.

Simple as regime change,
restocking Saddam's rape rooms and torture chambers with high school graduates,
no one will ever prove Lincoln was gay.

Who can't, in perpetuity,
cast criticism of torture photos as homophobic?

Who can't read "My Pet Goat,"
after a monthlong vacation?

Those who want to raise taxes to fund a war of choice do not want to win reelection.

Just because you skipped your Alabama guard grills,
that doesn't mean you can't show up on the USS Lincoln circling off the coast of California in a flight suit.

#52 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:49 PM:

guard drills

Tom, don't tell Avram, since it's his idea, and he'll just kick out his own verse -- strangely changing his name to "Mike" just to confuse my 6 readers.

#53 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: June 20, 2005, 11:52 PM:

There is a difference between the idea and the execution.

The one who follows through actually crosses the still waters.

#54 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 12:45 AM:

"Why did Jesus weep?"

Two specific times when Jesus is noted as weeping:

(Coming to Jerusalem)
Luke 19:41-42
    And when he had come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it,
    Saying, If you, even you, had only known on this day, the things which make for peace! but now they are hidden from your eyes.
[It appears not a lot has changed since.]

(Coming to the place where Lazarus lay dead, with his family and friends mourning.)
John 11:35
   Jesus wept.

#55 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:13 AM:


Even though he only freed the slaves
Lincoln is still somehow our best president.

And thanks to Hitler, FDR is next.

The president's father was only a one-termer.

Even though he won the first Gulf War,
he cheated on the president's mother
and could not exploit Bubba's affairs.

Acting casual like Reagan is best for the president,
when evil empires fall apart you get the credit
but when you delegate to terrorists you have deniability.

#56 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:48 AM:

I'm not sure who the author of the Gitmo Sutra should be, if there's a better choice than Karl Rove or Alberto Gonzalez.


When strength is measured by generosity,
then the interrogator must step in and correct it.

When peace is measured by adaptability,
the interrogator must say Jesus is white.

When freedom is measured by creativity,
the interrogator must introduce detainees to German shepard breath.

When backwards democrats are in the White House
FBI search warrants against Saudi terrorists aren't trashed
and poor people use evil condoms to have less abortions.

#57 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:00 AM:


Deny racism even exists,
and closet Confederates will feel "Arthurian."

Eliminate affirmative action protections,
and ignore any relationship between hate crime and cop-killer sentencing.

Revise government science reports to conform to policy
and there will be no pesky Kyoto treaty
inhibiting corporate profits.

Regulation become useless
when used for measuring strength by domination
by which corporations justify harvesting middle-class savings.

See the basic,
embrace the fixed market,
paint it as fair.

#58 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:36 AM:

Note to self: adapt abstract images to touch on policy, adapt concrete images to touch on interrogation/detention.

Also, that spit-take line makes no sense. Wanted something better than "can you say 'homogenize' without giggling?" but couldn't cut it.


Detach from information and you will have no worries.

How far apart are interrogators and information?

How far apart are good and bad?

Detainees cannot be but interrogated.

Wild indeed it is to withhold information!

Most interrogators take polaroids
like Mom at the Grand Canyon,
or Thanksgiving;

The interrogator alone is starved of information,
showing no sign
the detainee will ever be free of his domination,
riding grannies,
"Your cell doesn't seem so small now, does it?"

Most people would harvest more information than they have detainees;

The interrogator is alone in having no information.

It might even be said ignoramuses make the best interrogators
in their unadulterated simplicity.

Ordinary people would gather information from interrogation;
interrogators should interrogate for pleasure,
regardless of information.

Ordinary people try to abstain from torture;
interrogators should torture with pleasure,
like fish take to water,
without "up" or "down."

Most people have reason and goals.

The interrogator alone is unconcerned by information.

The interrogator alone is different from people
in that he seeks interrogation from detainees.

#59 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 09:49 AM:


For the countenance of great virtue,
only evangelicals speaking for Jesus are to be followed.

As messiah, Jesus speaks English and is white:
white and English-speaking, like the way he is painted;
English-speaking and white, you cannot imagine otherwise.

Unspoken, biases hidden, it has vitality therein:
that vitality is made real;
speak like it's true.

From ancient times to now,
there were no dinosaurs before Jesus;
why ruin the paradigm.

How do I know Jesus was white?
Oh, hey, check out my iPod.

#60 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:35 AM:


Benefit from critics of democrats and remain whole;
they are veterans for the truth and you don't have to answer for skipping drill.

Detention cells are filled,
vacationing presidents are reelected,

Economy is gaining,
don't mention it all goes to the wealthy.

Therefore patriots embrace interrogation
as a model for the world.

Not having information,
interrogators are therefore cleared.

Not allowing detainees to leave,
interrogators therefore interrogate them.

Not retrieving information,
interrogating detainees continues.

Not killing detainees,
Interrogation makes Gitmo not a gulag.

It is just because you are not in the Polaroids
that no one can end interrogation.

Is it empty talk, the old saying
that the buck stops at the presidency?

When truthfulness is complete,
there is the shredding of military records.

#61 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:53 AM:


Malapropisms is natural.

Formality is like a gusty wind that doesn't last the morning,
responsibility a downpour that doesn't last the day.

How to get things done? Propaganda and conformity.

If propaganda and conformity cannot go on forever,
how less likely the poor are to vote republican!

Therefore those who value conformity measure strength by domination;
the strong are fit,
those who do not fit are losers.

Those who measure strength by dominance are happy to conform,
those who measure freedom by compensation are happy to conform,
those who measure peace by conformity are simply happy.

And for things to blame leftover, detain someone and interrogate them for 4 years.

#63 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 12:10 PM:

Modifying to be less indulgent, partisan-wise:

  • International rights become useless when used for measuring strength by domination by which interrogators justify cigarette burns in flesh.

  • Benefit from swift boat veterans and remain whole;
  • how less likely the poor are to vote against their own interests!

Make Jesus love torture:


For the countenance of great virtue,
only evangelicals speaking for Jesus are to be followed.
As messiah, Jesus loves torture:
loving his enemies means keeping detainees forever;
meek inheriting the earth, smaller cells means fewer square feet per detainee.
Unspoken, biases hidden, Jesus has vitality in torture:
however much vitality it has;
try not to photograph it.
From ancient times to now,
there were no dinosaurs before Jesus;
why ruin the paradigm.
How do I know Jesus loved torture?
Never mind, check out my iPod.

other notes:
more concrete images should be included with the interrogator imagery -- maybe more analogies to them. (man, this is a gruesome topic)


Those detainees on tiptoe don't stand up,
those handcuffed doubled-over do not walk;
those with unlaundered briefs over their eyes do not see,
those wearing clothing are not photographed;
those who denounce America will be chained in disco poses,
those who take refuge in books of faith will have to wait until my bladder is full.

Media reports these prankish activities
and feed the insurgency.

Some people disdain them,
so patriots call them traitors.

#64 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 12:54 PM:

It was a mistake to start linearly -- should do all the short verses first.

19. "Human rights" not international rights
21. "...smaller cells mean more detainees per area."


Gravity stretches out a chained detainee;
chains are the masters of shackled limbs.

Thereby does an interrogator travel from cell to cell
with every detainee prone.

Interrogators have a look of prosperity,
their torture is transcendent.

What can be done about detainess
who offer to talk to avoid torture?
Instead of gravity,
pull them by a leash.

#65 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:17 PM:

When interrogations are performed
Without unnecessary publicity
People say, "We didn't do it."

#66 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:19 PM:

19 update

"Revise government science reports" to:

Reinterpret human rights
and there will no international standard
inhibiting torture.


Those who interrogate are wise;
those who have no information are enlightened.

Those who overcome detainee-alibis are powerful;
those who shred incriminating evidence are strong.

Those who are Halliburton are rich;
Those who build a new Gitmo jail receive $30 million.

Those who know their place may pack the dead on ice;
those who like the way things are don't ask questions.

#67 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:47 PM:

Modifying Alan's verse as the new last line of 23. (Malapropisms)

When torture is reported, wise leaders say, "We didn't do it."


Interrogation is universal;
it can apply to the guilty and everyone else.

All free people depend on it for life,
interrogation cannot be resisted.

If information is extracted,
detainees are kept regardless.

All detainees are lovingly interrogated,
without rhyme or reason.

Disregarded, information can be called small.

As all detainees recoil from torture,
as the public is indifferent to it,
it can be called great.

Therefore wise leaders never contrive against torture;
that is why nations can become great.

#68 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 01:56 PM:


When quarantining detainees,
the world goes on and on without harm,
peaceful, even, tranquil.

Where there is music and dining,
detainees are removed from there;
but the issue of interrogation
is so plain as to be flavorless.

Their children cannot see them;
their wives cannot hear them;
detention cannot be exhausted.

#69 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:12 PM:


Should you double-over a detainee to shackle him,
you must stretch him out over a rail.

Should you drive him from the shelter of the only faith he knows,
you must encourage -- with women, nudity, and pornography -- strong erections.

Should you want to minimize his terror and invalidate him,
throw him on a pile of naked men.

Should you want him to itch for 58 minute,
grant him 2 minutes to scratch.

These are subtle tortures.

Flexibility and yielding
coercing adamant resolve.

Fish shouldn't be taken from the depths.

How much more severe the torture is
when the detainee only has his word it's even taking place.

#70 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 02:22 PM:

I am _not_ defending the acts of the torturers: I am pointing out that good intentions are not enough. In particular, a good end is not enough, if we ignore the means. Jim quoted, and I thought was agreeing with, the statement that "The moral character of any and every act of a moral agent resides in the motive or the ultimate reason for the act."

Not in the act itself. Not in its effects on other people. In the "motive or the ultimate reason for the act."

#71 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 03:08 PM:

To me, the rhythm of the modified verses is starting to feel more like a "Screwtape Letters"-style justification for torture (which is also kind of why I decided Avram's opening verse was better his way). Let me know if it becomes too tedious, I can always take it offline.


A prisoner who is detained
is the foundation of dominance.

A detainee is kept in a room;
that is how we know we are free.

His accusers owe him no explanation and their biases
are not subject to scrutiny.


Which is more vulnerable, a detainee's name or his body?
Which is greater, his body or his possessions?
which is more coercive, gratification or deprivation?

Extreme relief means great indebtedness,
and abundant detainees mean prisoner gladiatorial fights.

If you give the detainee enough peace,
the longer he will be menaced by the blood-thirsty German shepherd.

If you subject the detainee to the German shepherd too long,
he won't care as much when it's chewing on his leg-tendon.

It is possible thereby to terrify a detainee indefinitely.

#72 ::: ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 03:50 PM:


Complete dominance seems incomplete;
It's endless despair remains in that last bit of hope.

The despair of a dungeon is in its emptiness;
the despair of an empty dungeon is endless.

Complete coercion seem consensual;
giving some illusion of control
shelters your deniability.

When you strap down a detainee,
and he defecates on himself,
who will say the shame is not his but yours.

#73 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:13 PM:


When the free world adopts torture,
Rich families leave military service to the poor.

When the free world neglects torture,
children are pressured to serve regardless of privilege.

No crime is greater than diplomacy;
no calamity is greater than waiting for a war of necessity,
no fault is greater than patience.

So voter-indifference to torture is always enough.

#74 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 04:30 PM:


Under heaven nothing is more soft and yielding than water.
Yet for attacking the solid and strong, nothing is better.
It can be dripped endlessly on a captive's head.
The captive's head can be held under it.
It can flush a sacred text down the drain.
It has no equal.
The weak can overcome the strong.
The supple can overcome the stiff.
Under heaven everyone knows this.
Yet we are reality-based, and put it into practice.
Therefore the sage says:
He who takes upon himself the humilation of people is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country's disasters deserves to be the President of the Universe.
He deserves to be the Emperor of Everything.
The truth often sounds paradoxical.
Live with it.


After a bitter election, some resentment must remain.
What can one do about it?
Therefore the sage keeps half his promises,
and exacts his due from the core.
He rewards the wealthy who backed him.
He scares the rest about impovershed old age.
A man in the White House performs his part.
But a man outside the beltway is not in the play.
The Tao of heaven is impartial.
It eliminates estate tax among poor and rich alike.
It allows any company to compete with Halliburton.
It stays with the powerful even in undisclosed locations.


A small country has fewer people.
Bombs and bullets can reduce it further.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster than man, they won't work when the power grid is down.
We'll fix that soon, once the contractor's been paid.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and cars, few use them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Rope can be used as a dog-leash for a man.
Rope can tie hands behind backs for days.
Rope can suspend a man in a cell.
Their food is plain and good.
Sadam hates Fruit Loops, guess what's for breakfast?
Their orange clothes are fine but simple.
They can be seen easily from the guntower.
Though they are incarcerated within sight of their neighbors, barking dogs are heard through the barbed wire.
They are a simple people.
They are happy in their barbarian ways.
We let them pray, and put up pretty pictures of naked women to make their prayers happier.
We will leave them in peace, in their cells, while they grow old and die.
Or until the war on terror ends; whichever comes first.

#75 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:02 PM:

Man, the translation I have of the original text for verse 19 is abstract and goes all over the place -- it just bothers me too much:


Deny racism even exists,
and closet Confederates will feel "Arthurian."

Eliminate affirmative action protections,
and ignore any relationship between hate crime and cop-killer sentencing.

Reinterpret human rights
and there will no international standard
inhibiting torture.

When we have dominated the terrorists
by using their own terror against them
peace in the Middle East will justify everything.

See the basic,
fight fire
with fire,
don't ask me about water.


As the interrogator leaves for work, his wife says,
"If you're going to be late for dinner, don't even bother coming back through that door."

He is considering the benefit of taking her offer
without even saying a word.

The closer he gets to the door, the less certain he is he'll return;
yet another thing the interrogator doesn't know,
going without returning,
divorcing without striving.

#76 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:09 PM:

It occurs to me that it is a very good thing for the authors and editor of this thread that the defenders of the Tao te Ching are less zealous than those of bible and Koran.

#77 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:21 PM:


The interrogator hits on the Red Cross worker daily;
Refusing him, she loses her opportunity to attend to the detainees daily.
Losing and losing,
thus the interrogator reaches noncontrivance;
be uncontrived, and there is no rejection you can't turn into a good thing.

Taking the Red Cross worker would be easy,
her arms would break in your meaty paws like dry spaghetti.

But when keeping the Red Cross worker from the detainees,
allowing her to reject your advances is enough.

#78 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 05:31 PM:

But the Koran is a finished text, so we'd need a Gitmo Hadith.

#79 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 06:01 PM:


Exiting the detention facility, the interrogator enters the Gitmo commissary.

The undocumented workers working for the base exchange are 3 out of 10,
the number of base exchange workers the interrogator wishes to interrogate are 3 out of 10;
this workday, the base exchange workers
must tolerate horseplay from young recruits
who are also 3 out of 10.

What is the reason?
Because of the intimidation
with which they wave an open "Playboy."

It has been said
military exchanges no longer support the sale of pornography,
and the interrogator asks himself who he has to interrogate
to find out how Playboy does not qualify.

There are no more Twix bars to gorge on;
there are no more peanutty Paydays to consume;
there is only leftover candy corn to devour.
What now? The interrogator would rather sample the excrement of which his detainees are forced to roll in.

#80 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 06:10 PM:


The interrogator has no Mustang car;
he borrowed money from the loan sharks services that prey on the military:
he borrowed five bills,
his wife's car was not enough collateral;
he mortgaged his beloved car.

He missed a payment,
but it wasn't his fault,
his wife didn't leave enough
in their joint account.

When the interrogator made his payment
it was too late:
they towed his Mustang;
he tried to stop them,
but they pistol-whipped him.

#81 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 06:18 PM:

Good lord, Mike, you're a fount of... well, something.

Don't quit now! I'd love to see all of this finished up and posted as one continuous thread.

#82 ::: Jas. ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 06:32 PM:

Randolph Fritz wrote:
> It occurs to me that it is a very good thing for the authors and editor of this thread that
> the defenders of the Tao te Ching are less zealous than those of bible and Koran.

Speaking as a beginning student of the Tao Te Ching, I was thinking the very same thing.

Tolerance is a wonderful thing.

For a different take on this thread, though, while one Gitmo/Gulag spin on one Taoist verse was
interesting, dozens of such "spun" verses appear (to me) to be beating a dead horse. As there
are others who seem to like them, though, stating this opinion only once will suffice to express
my lack of appreciation.

In other words ... bored now. :-)


#83 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:02 PM:


The interrogator's wife
did not get
custody of her daughter
after the divorce.

She cheated on her first husband
with a young interrogator.

The interrogator's wife
had partial custody
during the separation,
but she mistakenly moved in with the interrogator.

The interrogator taught his future wife's daughter
how to break the arm
of someone trying
to choke her.

A boy was teasing her about her parents
and she punched him in the crotch; he deserved it;
the judged ruled the interrogator was liable,
and custody went to her father.

#84 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 07:41 PM:


The wife of the interrogator works part-time
and was ordered by the court to pay child support.

Her ex-husband is retiring,
and is planning to marry a Cuban cigar-roller.

Her thighs are stained and flabby
from her career rolling cigars on them,
and he's in love as if for the first time.

The cigar-roller wants to live with her family
who floated to Miami on a raft of cigar tubes.

She had been saving them for her and her boyfriend,
but her family found them.

They started floating away when their basement flooded;
her family decided to leave Cuba but she wanted to wait for Pedro.

Pedro was in jail for punching a Cuban umpire who called his strike a ball;
the Yankees soon learned of Pedro and flew him
at his request without his faithful cigar-roller.
He was deported for beating a Mary Marvel-themed transvestite hooker.

#85 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 08:07 PM:

Where is the pause on this video game?


The ex-husband told the wife of the interrogator
he was taking their daughter to Miami.

He was going to open a Krispy Kreme franchise.

Not a Krispy Kreme where the donuts are shipped in,
but one where the donuts are fried.

The wife of the interrogator
didn't want her daughter to leave Cuba,
but her ex-husband reminded her their daughter was turning 16 this year;
parents at Gitmo typically sent their daughters
to relatives in the States at 14;
the wife of the interrogator
could not disagree with her ex-husband.

The ex-husband said at least them leaving Cuba meant
she wouldn't have to pay child support anymore.

#86 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 10:51 PM:

Because we love freedom,
We protect it by
Burying it,
(With patriots and tyrants)
Now and then exhuming it
To see if all's well.

And when it isn't,
(It's gotten soiled, somehow,
And what's that stain?)
We wonder what we loved,
And why our good faith
Does not serve.


Destroying law
Is hard, and easy.
Hard, for outlaws only
Pick at threads.
But easy:
For those who wear the garment
Rend it, then.

#87 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 21, 2005, 11:01 PM:

While airplanes depend on drag to stay in the air, I feel like whatever streamlining I've done to the gitmo sutra madlibs since yesterday has caused me to crash its plane. I don't even think I was 20 verses in before I defaulted to my favorite "George Bush as southern Lincoln" line of reasoning, and quite frankly I'm afraid to look.

I mean, I have a plot and everything for the interrogator, but does anyone need me to present it in another 30 verses, or can we just chalk today up to trying something new?

#88 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 01:59 AM:

Please, Mike, keep going! Novellas and Novels in verse do get published now and then. I can imagine your work in, say, The Village Voice. Norman Mailer interview in this month's Rolling Stone reminded me of its origins.

Don't mind my starting at the end and working towards the start. It's the way I often write poems and short stories. Know the punchline, am surprised how I got there.

#89 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 09:54 AM:

With the plot, I'm not sure who is narrating now.

30. (not for number order, but to occupy skipped verses)

Detainees who cooperate in interrogations
do not volunteer information
such things end interrogation.

"I know where Osama bin Laden is,"
says one detainee, say all eventually.

"We have a GPS tracking system on him,"
says a clever detainee to the interrogator;
the interrogator is surprised and laughs,
but laughs not to loudly,
for only a little bit of approval is enough gratification.

Such is the kind of information
that must be disregarded for the interrogation to continue.

"I know where Saddam's weapons of mass destruction
are located," the interrogator hears from another;
"I can tell you where al-Qaida keeps their largest cache
of opium and gold," he hears from another;
disregarding information is essential for the interrogation to continue.


"I am the son of Osama, and the grandson of Saddam,"
hears the interrogator, of one detainee voluteering a DNA sample;
"I am the missing link between Saddam and al-Qaida."

"I know where Jimmy Hoffa is buried,"
the interrogator will hear , if the detainee is well read.

"The woman buried in Princess Diana's is a clone made from soybeans,"
the interrogator will hear from another.

"I was spirited away to afghanistan to develop cold fusion,"
the interrogator will hear from one claiming to be a scientist;
"please you must give me a paper and pencil
before I forget;"
His claim of being one of Saddam's weapon scientists
must also be disregarded.

The interrogator watches one detainee
pull out his hair.

"These bar codes can access
a half million US dollars of Saddam's fortune;
the code hidden behind my right ear
is for the institution;
the code behind my left ear
is for the Swiss account."

Upon hearing this
the interrogator must summon assistance.

It takes 2 interrogators to hold down the detainee
as the interrogator applies the cigarette burns to his scalp.

Unfortunately for the detainee, the bar codes
are wider than they have to be.

#90 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 10:51 AM:


Hesitation leaves a trail,
hesitation leaves errors,
hesitation shows calculation.

Cubicles in the detention facility have no doors,
where there is no detention, there is no information.

Roger asks the interrogator,
"Care to buy some girl scout cookies?"

Roger is the interrogators supervisor.
The interrogator is sleeping with Roger's wife.

"For Nicole?" said the interrogator.
"No, for Charlie," Nicole's younger brother, said Roger;
"Of course Nicole, who do you think?"

Roger's wife once hid a bag of charcoal,
so Roger would take the kids to get more
so she could be alone with the interrogator.


Prefer the chocolate and peanut butter cookies, keep the mints;
Keep your desires hidden.

Roger hates the mint cookies,
Roger knows the interogator hates the mint cookies,
Roger's closet is full of Nicole's mint cookies.

"Do you have chocolate and peanut butter," the interrogator asks;
the interrogator secretly prefers the mint cookies.

"Sorry, I only have mint," said Roger.
"As your supervisor, I recommend you buy a box of mint;
you've got a review coming up, remember?"

Keep your desires hidden, and act without hesitation.
The supervisor's wife hates how he cries himself to sleep at night.

#91 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 12:49 PM:


The interrogator returns home with an unwrapped "bomb pop."

"What is that?" said the interrogator's wife,
"I'm just about to set dinner on the table."

"It's a 'bomb pop,' said the interrogator;
"It's red, white, blue, I love it!"

"Give that to me, said the interrogator's wife,
"you'll ruin your appetite."

The interrogator scarfed down the delicious bomb pop;
The cold air he exhaled caused the air to steam.

"No thanks, dear,' said the interrogator;
"I've already eaten."

The interrogator was in love with the Cuban news woman;
his wife took every step she could to bring him home
and serve dinner during her broadcasts.

The interrogator settled into the easy chair
as rivers flow to oceans.


Should you want to take a married woman
and contrive to do so,
be careful not to break up her marriage.

If you interrogate her
she will offer information.

Those who spoil her marriage
must contend with her knowledge.

Sometimes husbands preserve marriage and sometimes leave,
sometimes deny and sometimes cheat themselves,
are sometimes forbidding and sometimes permissive,
settle afairs immediately and sometimes wait for a really good ambush;
therefore interrogators should not impose on marrital bonds,
minimize commitment,
minimize interrogation

#92 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:22 PM:


Good construction does not fall down,
a good embrace does not let go;
spouses honor each other unceasingly.

Cultivate love in yourself, and your marriage will be real;
don't pick a talkative wife, and your marriage will last forever;
pick a hefty commute to work, and forget to pick up the milk;
say you lost your paycheck in the football pool, and not on strippers off-base.

So observe yourself by yourself,
observe your wife at home,
go to places where your wife is not,
your wedding ring marks you as a safer lay to slutty women,
the world disregards single men.
How does an interrogator honor his marriage?
As has been described.

#93 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 02:49 PM:


The interrogator thinks of kicking his wife's daughter
into oncoming traffic, just to distress her mother.

Spiders and scorpions do not sting her,
base guard dogs do not growl at her,
crows which smell death do not grab her and fly away.

yet invulnerable.

The interrogator considered explaning the birds and the bees to her,
just so she would tell her parents she learned it from him;
It's like a love affair.

Waiting to give her beer and get her drunk,
like the anticipation before bursting bubble-wrap,
she's going to get burned sooner or later;
maybe start her with a mai tai.

When trust is burdened, it wanes;
If she can be turned against her parents,
she may provide a good lay after she has moved out.

#94 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 03:19 PM:


The interrogator does not know his wife,
but has no curiosity.

She wears a man's cologne,
he suspects no affair;
she takes phone calls in the other room,
whispers, but does not hear the other line pick-up;
she includes in his laundry
bikini briefs which are not the interrogator's.

No inconsistency is too severe.

The interrogator found a man hiding in their closet,
but he did not need to be introduced as her visiting brother;
beer is steadily removed from his stock,
but he does not remind her she does not drink;
she drives around with the wide-sceen television in the passenger seat,
but the depression arouses no suspicion as she drives him to work;
she displays hickeys along her neckline,
but his first concern is if she's damaging the vacuum cleaner.

Therefore trust is precious for an interrogator's marriage.

#95 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 04:45 PM:


The interrogator's father served
in the armed forces veterinary corp;
he was killed by a Saudi Arabian camel-handler's union.

How does the interrogator know this?

When his father's body was shipped home,
his face was marked with the Sign of the Camel-Handlers Local 1414;
the sign is a camel with spider's legs,
that was the shape of the impression left on his neck.

His father served 2 years in Saudi Arabia,
as a lt colonel handling the general's camel;
generals are dicks the way they make officers crawl to make colonel;
the camel was a gift of the Saudi Royal Family,
which the general never visited after accepting it.

Never visited until the general announced his retirement,
and he performed his own stage magic at the ceremony;
The general, the camel he made disappear, and the camel's handler made the local papers;
that's when Local 1414 ordered the assassination of the interrogator's father.

#96 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 04:46 PM:

"his face was marked" should be "he was marked"

#97 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 05:47 PM:


The interrogator never discussed with his mother
the Sign of the Camel Handlers Local 1414.

He had only discussed it ever with one person,
a girl he was dating during espionage school.

"My father was killed by Camel Handlers Local 1414," he said;
Her father organized labor for auto-workers in Detroit.

She thought he was ridiculing her father.
She broke up with him.

The interrogator tried dating girls
without mentioning his father;
when they asked, he said his father died
doing one of those things father's do:
playing catch,
taking the interrogator hunting,
talking to him about birth control or drugs -- "things fathers do."
Dating became easier for him after he specialized in interrogation.

#98 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 06:35 PM:


Gitmo was the interrogator's opportunity
to learn about Local 1414.

The other interrogators thought his spider-legged camel costume
was for psych-out value;
they did not know the interrogator
was on a serious mission.

All the detainees said the same thing:
Saudi Arabia has no labor unions.

The interrogator knew Local 1414 was a puppet union
organized by the monarchy to appease the west;
"Doing those things American unions do,"
was their slogan.

Having been raised by fathers, the other interrogators
did not suspect Local 1414 like the interrogator did.

#99 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 09:04 PM:

I see this published enthusiastically by City Lights Books, but there are certainly other outlets.

#100 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 09:34 PM:

Mike - it's beautifull and horrifying at the same time.

I have been reading it for a couple of days, listening to your words setting off the echoes of other words that I heard recently, trying to remember where I heard them. I finally figured it out.

This work reminds me of Henry Reed's brilliant The Complete Lessons of the War, five poems including The Naming of Parts.

My middle son read them all to me a couple of months ago when he was working on a project for school.

My vote is that you finish it.

#101 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 09:46 PM:


When the interrogator started searching detainee cells
instead of interrogating, the department knew something was wrong.

The interrogator handled freshly urinated Korans
flipping the pages, sprinkling urine in his face.

The interrogator ordered detainees to undress
and shook out their unlaundered rags.

The interrogator picked up detainee feces
and squeezed it in his fingers, searching.

Roger the supervisor ordered the interrogator to take the afternoon off,
and broke the interrogator's cookie money on a pack of gum.

#102 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 22, 2005, 10:25 PM:

I just wanted to say on day 3 -- this is quite fun! Once you have characters who justify torture, you can play all the controversial cards. Who's to say anything doesn't happen?

I will shoot for finishing Friday, but I will most likely finish Saturday. Thank you for your encouragement. At this point, if there are more than half dozen of you watching, please hold onto that until I'm done.

#103 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 07:08 AM:


Something agitated the interrogator
flowing and thundrous, glacial and terrible,
accelerating relentlessly,
raising the oceans of the world.

Interrogators do not speak of this,
refuse to mention this phenomenon.

Even casually others may
refer to it as "curiosity."

Curiosity means it goes;
going means grasping;
grasping means returning.

Therefore curiosity is epic,
heaven is epic,
hell is epic,
and greatness is epic.

Among domains are four greats,
of which harmony of man is one.

Harmony of man emulates earth,
earth emulates heaven,
heaven emulates domination,
interrogators seek not curiosity.

#104 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 07:55 AM:

Change mention of four greats of the previous verse to three.


Local 1414 emerged
into intercourse with the interrogator.

The Sign of the Camel Handlers appeared to upon entrance to the cell
as an impression on the temple of a detainee.

At first he said "what symbol of a Middle Eastern conspiracy?"
next he claimed it was just a pimple,
next he said, "please, I cannot talk, I have a family."

And so the interrogator found his first evidence
of the Camel Handlers Local 1414 since his father's death.

All of that time only having veterinary corp rumor
and his own word that they even existed;
the mark had manifested on a detainee
the interrogator's curiosity became inflammed.

The interrogator demanded to know how he was marked;
demanded to know with what possession such a mark can be made.

Suspecting a stamp or ring of some kind,
that is when the interrogator began his search of the cells and was halted.

#105 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 08:39 AM:


Heart attack, the army coroner said;
untraceable poison, veterinary corp rumors said more likely.

That was the legacy of a father the interrogator hardly knew.

Insurance policies can settle mortgages,
empty uniforms can oppress heirs;
why should abandoned children honor their fathers?

Therefore celebrate patriotism,
fulfilment of duty;
wave flags and sparklers,
and parade in the growing seasons.

Duty is good
if it coerces duty's benefactors.

Why do the living then seek to walk with the dead?

By fulfilling the trust
that the brave shall not die alone.

Therefore the dominant can take credit for what the selfless accomplish.

#106 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 09:32 AM:


Deliberately interrogate casually,
coerce while abdicating reponsibility,
savor disapprovingly,
impose formality,
make much of little,
make enmity an imposition on your generosity;
prepare to disregard information when information is unavailable,
interrogate relentlessly.

Interrogation must take place
upon the most vulnerable of detainees;
the most overwhelming domination
is enacted against the most tender.

Because interrogators never accept great challenges,
they achieve great dominance.

If you reserve the right to exploit, you'll be little trusted;
If you make domination your justification, you'll encounter resistent resolves.

Therefore it is through difficulty
that interrogators keep their agendas hidden.

#107 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 10:00 AM:


What is easy to hold
is carried within you.

What does not show up
is easy to deny.

What is small
is easy to place in your colon.

What is expelled from the body
is easy to overlook.

Carry in your bowels what is inert
and it will not digest.

The most closely held possessions
are of one piece,
which are difficult to break.

Pieces that join
are made to be parted.

Thus the most indominant tools
do not join.

They cling to nothing,
and so lose nothing.

Therefore people's works
are always spoiled on the verge of completion.

Be as very careful of the end
as of the beginning,
and nothing will be spoiled.

Therefore encourage detainee desires
for goods beyond their reach and possession.

They hold nothing with their hands,
and recover what others lose
thereby to assist interrogation
minimize detainee resolve
and possession of small jewelry.

#108 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 12:25 PM:

Tense needs to be present.


In the corridor
of the cell block
where the marked detainee resides,
naked prisoners line up for body-cavity searches.

When the interrogator snaps on latex gloves,
he is ready for the next cavity search.

He makes the prisoner face the others
as the interrogator searches him.

The other prisoners do not look
at him or the interrogator.

While searching one prisoner's bowels,
the clattering of a trinket from the line.

Ripping his finger from the cavity he is searching,
the interrogator dives into the prisoners.

A small man sweeps at a ring,
and pulls at a drain cover.
The guards converge on the small man;
the interrogator sticks his finger in his eye and slugs him.

#109 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 02:30 PM:

Notes to self:
make the spider-legged camel into a camel-headed spider
have interrogator train instead as army driver before being switched to interrogation


The ring was embossed
with the Sign of Camel-Handlers Local 1414;
risoner 06-59-83 is the interrogator's last interrogation.

The interrogator tells 06-59-83 he was arrested on a warrant to arrest his brother;
06-59-83 cannot disagree.

The interrogator lies and tells 06-59-83
theirs is the last cell block being detained.

He lies and tells 06-59-83 that he and his entire cellblock
may go free if he admits to being a member of 1414.

06-59-83 begins sobbing
and says he wants to go home to his wife and children.

06-59-83 says he is surrounded by terrorists
and does not know why the Americans will not release him.

06-59-83 says his family makes a meager living farming poppies
and knows nothing of any secret organizations.

06-59-83 says he does not know who dropped the ring,
and only tried to chase it into the drain so the terrorists will not kill his family.

#110 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 04:21 PM:


Interrogating 06-59-83 with the interrogator
was Wally, who wrote in his notebook
that 06-59-83 refused to cooperate.

For the column to mark a detainee's cooperation
Wally's notebook was all clear.

If an interrogator ever marked a detainee as cooperative,
they would have to classify the information taken.

Gitmo Security held quarterly assemblies
to review all the violations the division could get away with.

"All games on your computer are a security violation," was military jargon
for "we can turn you in for the games on your computer if you ever piss us off."

"Cameras into the cellblocks are a security violation," really meant
"don't get caught when you take polaroids in the cell blocks."

"Account access within the secured areas will be restricted,"
really meant "password protect prison pictures you upload
with the network privileges you aren't supposed to have."

"All information taken from Gitmo detainees
must be reviewed and classified by Security,"
really meant "Security will make your life hell
reviewing information, so don't take prisoner statements."

So when 06-59-83 began sobbing,
Wally documented that he was uncooperative
and closed his notebook.

"It's a bit early in the interrogation to begin torture," says Wally.
"Everyone has to have an off day I suppose," Wally tells the interrogator.

"I'm not done with him yet," says the interrogator.
"He still has information I want."

"He's already crying over a camel-headed spider," says Wally.
"How many cigarettes do you want to light just to burn his ass closed?"

#111 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 04:25 PM:

Did I say Saturday? I may need Sunday to finish.

#112 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 04:52 PM:


The interrogator's wife
works in the Gitmo commissary.
She counts
cashier till-drawers.
She dislikes how the young cashiers
encourage the young recruits to horseplay
She sees her husband visit the commissary
all the time without ever stopping to say hello.

#113 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 08:09 PM:


The interrogator's wife said her goodbyes
taking her daughter out the night before.

The interrogator hardly said a word throughout dinner;
She was concerned the interrogator might do something unpredictible,
but last evening that concern was misplaced;
the interrogator sniffed his chocolate pudding
for what seemed an unusual amount of time, but that is all.

The ex-husband picked up their daughter at the restaurant;
packing needed finishing.

The ex-husband did not work with the interrogator,
who worked instead in the records center;
he was already processed out.

The interrogator's wife is now thinking
the plane must be departing;
it will still be in the air
when she returns home.


The ex-husband played too much
Dungeons and Dragons.

He would spend hours painting pewter dwarves,
in tinted colors making them ugly.

The arms of his dwarves
were too short in his drawings.

He said they were foreshortened naturally,
but she knew better.

She tried to get him hot by wearing a slinky, black dress
around his "Dee and Dee" friends.

Instead his ranger was turned to stone by a medusa
and they didn't have sex for three weeks.

#114 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 09:54 PM:


The cigar-roller's family
are avid "Dee and Dee" players;
the ones in Miami and the ones still in Cuba.

Even Pedro, after his deportation,
whipped up a paladin to play
with the cigar-roller's new husband.

The interrogator's wife didn't know why
it was so hard for a woman to get what she wants
and so easy for a man to get what he wants.


His wife is already home when the interrogator returns;
he tells her he had killed a man today.

The interrogator was so oppressed by his isolation,
the prospect of proving his father was murderered overwhelmed him.

The interrogator does not say these words, however;
instead he speaks of killing a man for hiding a ring in his rectum.

The interrogator's wife's heart breaks thinking
how her daughter's plane hasn't even landed in Miami yet.

The interrogator's wife thinks how men and women lie
about the limits to which they will oppress each other;
but it's the women who lose out
because they believe the lies they are told.

#115 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 10:15 PM:

rather than engaged, have ex-husband and cigar-roller as newlyweds. change red cross worker earlier to UN inspector.


The interrogator tells his wife he killed 065983
then walked boldly out out of the facility.

The interrogator tells his wife
about returning to the life
the prosecutors will try to take away from him.

The interrogator tells his wife
about how a plea may even lead to a promotion.

The interrogator tells his wife
how a promotion
could lead to greater influence,
which could lead to a change in policy,
which could open an investigation into his father's murder.

It may mean widening its holes,
but the net the interrogator casts
may expand greatly.

#116 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 23, 2005, 10:56 PM:

I guess I will finish a draft tomorrow after all.


His wife tells the interrogator
he will have to accomplish
his goals without her.

She tells him she's leaving him
and begins
to pack her things

The interrogator tells his wife
she can't leave him.

He tells her a seperation
will weaken his leverage
in bargaining his freedom.

The interrogator also tells her he loves her.


The interrogator's wife begins sobbing;
she asks him how he can say that
after the horrible things he's done to her.

The interrogator replies
it's by the mistrust he earned
that he now knows he loves her.

The interrogator's wife cries not because
she believes he's lying about loving her;
she cries because for the first time
she believes he's telling the truth.

The interrogator steps up to his wife
and sinks his fingers into her shoulders.

#117 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 06:29 AM:


In her autobiography
The interrogator's wife will write
how her whole life up until now has been a lie.

She will write
it has not been her
who the men in her life have been carrying her

Instead she realizes
it is she
who has been carrying them.

So an interrogator,
like a tree that is strong,
may not prevail.


When the interrogator grabbed
his wife's shoulders
he felt like a stranger to her.

The interrogator's wife broke his arm
and knocked the interrogator
over the glass coffee table.

She had used the same strike
the interrogator
demonstrated for a man choking her.

The broken glass
severed a major artery in his neck;
he died in minutes.

#118 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 06:57 AM:


When the prosecutors will question her
the interrogator's wife will tell them everything
it will be the first time anyone shows any interest in her.

Her defenders will file a motion
to dismiss her confession;
the judge will deny the motion.

Her lawyers will
allow her to testify
to address her confession

She will be so happy to answer the prosecution's questions
her own lawyers will object to her testimony
before the prosecution will dismiss her.


The interrogator's wife
will be found guilty of manslaughter
against the man who loved her.

From her jail cell
the interrogator's wife
will be offered many interview opportunities.

She accepts all of them;
the first interview she accepts
is from the cuban newswoman
she won her husband from at the end of his life.

She bears no grudge against her
for not holding onto him more securely.


2 short of 81. Revising this seems pretty daunting. Right now, I'm thinking I should just pick an opening, like the one Avram started all this with, and keep to it throughout. In fact, now that I say it, it sounds so simple I feel stupid for not seeing it before.

I have an appointing this morning. Please let me know what you think in the meantime.

#119 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 10:38 AM:

I've been reading this every morning with a kind of horrified fascination. I'm not at all sure about the plot and the interrogator's father, that seems to me to be perhaps headed in the wrong direction?

I looked at 80 and 81 in Lau's Penguin Classics translation.


Reduce the number of people considered as citizens. Ensure that even though the people have rifles and handguns, they will not use them,
Also they will be reluctant to take any great action because they look upon change as a terrible thing.

Even when they have cellphones and the internet,
Even when they have MIs and hunting rifles,
They will have no occasion to speak freely or to fight.
Let them cling to the names of their rights.

Bring it about that the people will return to the use of the knotted rope,
Will fear the loss of their livelihood
Will fret over whether their clothes are right
Whether they are thin enough
And ignore what is being done in their name.

Though other states are only a few hours away by jet plane,
Though the citizens of other states have blogs and write in the papers,
Though all are people who breathe and fear alike,
Tell the people of the state that they alone are right, are the best, the most exceptional,
See that all others wear the face of the detainee.


Freedom is slavery.
Comparisons are odious.
We who have opposed the name of Nazi are named eternally good,
In our invasions, in our interrogations, in our detention centers,
In our smiling polaroids of our torture chambers.

The way of the Gitmo and the way of the Gulag go in a single direction.
All shall be well and all manner of things shall be well
When all the tongues of freedom are in-folded
In the crowned knot of fear
And the Gulag and the Gitmo are one.

#120 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 05:51 PM:

My understanding is that people are usually quicker to encourage than to criticize. Should I take the silence as "maybe next time?"

In any event, thanks for indulging me. Maybe y'all can fill in verses for that separate version I originally imagined it would be.

#121 ::: Georgiana ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 07:08 PM:

I really like it Mike. It took off in a totally unexepected direction and I was rather startled by the death of the interrogator but I would consider that a plus, not a problem.

I realized towards the end that when I think of Gitmo I never see the interrogators in my head, I see the prisoners and the rest is kind of a faceless mass or maybe even sort of robots with literally no faces. It's probably very good for me to see the humanity on all sides. I'm very tired, I'm probably rambling, sorry. Thanks for sharing this with us, I like it just like this.

#122 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 24, 2005, 08:03 PM:

Thanks, Georgiana!

On my way home today, I thought of reducing the story count a square or two, from 81 short chapters to 64 or 49, to consolidate the stronger parts of the story but still keep the count a graceful number.

Usually I just say the kind of crap I say in the story, but building a drama around them was very satifying for me. I will take a week to edit -- probably not for publication, but most likely for my site. Contact me or leave a comment if anyone wants to be updated when it's ready. I will also check here for constructive comments shared with everyone while I do that.


#123 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 08:28 AM:

I think you've got a completed draft and need to take that week to work on it without the rest of us looking over your shoulder--at least, that'd be how I'd feel if I had that draft in my hands.

#124 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 03:52 PM:

I'm still not fatigued, and revised through the weekend. I've read the slate article by the guy who made "crying while eating" on the elements of contagious media and am thinking of allowing the story to be forwarded, citing a link for credit.

I've made an credit page linking to current draft, this thread, and Avram. As of now this post is the only link to these pages.

If this is still the appropriate place to ask this: does the story approach something you would consider forwardable and, if not, is it very far away from that point?

Jo, you said you thought the father's death went in the wrong direction, if not the plot in general. It just seems like everyone already has their own position on the US's reaction to 9-11, and I wanted to bring in an event the reader wouldn't have a preexisting position on.

The point of the story to me is that reserving the right to torture unavoidably damages US credibility, feeds opposition, and demonstrates indifference to the middle class, however much the point of view denies it. When I review the story, the father's death seems appropriate for it. Please let me know if you can think of any way for this story to make this point for you.


#125 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 26, 2005, 05:09 PM:

Ah, screw it. I just reread the part where he talks about the boost the contest he entered gave him. That's a lot of legwork to compensate for.

Leaving the html draft up.

#126 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 02:22 AM:

This recent Digby post is worth bookmarking -- to throw at the next driveby who chimes in to support Cheney's "verdict first, sentence afterward" enemy combatant paradigm.

#127 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 02:39 AM:

Aargh. Late-life dyslexia.

#128 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 03:12 AM:

Lenny, oh man. This goes way beyond Cheney.

Just as he's released, masked men grab him and take him away to Gitmo. It's very much like the lynchings discussed on the Local History thread. Gitmo is the place outside of town, where the laws don't apply. America is the vigilantes, rounding up the strangers who threaten our way of life, or might threaten us in the future, or might have known someone who might threaten us.

The Bush administration's actions also match the profile of a hate-crime perpetrator, as described in David Neiwert's research: young, naive, and under the delusion that he's protecting his community by attacking innocent strangers.

#129 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 03:18 AM:

To clarify the previous: attacking innocents he perceives as strangers. "Outsiders" could have deeper roots in the community than their attackers, plus they have their own communities too.

#130 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 08:07 PM:

Mike, I hear what you're saying, but I think the thing with the father is both too surreal and too personal. (I think personalising him as having family and so on is good, I think personalising his reason for interrogating is in the wrong direction. He's interrogating because he's an interrogator, because he's following orders and interrogating is what he does. If he's doing it because of his father it actually makes too much sense.) I don't see a way of doing what you want to do there with impact and a new thing within something this direct. I'd go for it head on.

There is the whole thing of becoming the enemy, yes?

This isn't right, I don't have the mode you're using for this, but:

After somebody flies a plane into a tower
Killing three thousand of your people
As they reach for a their phones, their diaries,
At the very start of their workday;
Or if somebody drags six million of your people
From their homes at midnight, into boxcars,
Pulls the gold from their teeth
And cooks them in ovens;
Any response whatever is eternally proportionate.

We do not ask how the cities we bomb are involved
As children cower under makeshift shelters.
We do not ask what happens to the detainees
After we tie them up and piss on their korans.

We are always and exclusively justified.
The innocent are entirely on our side.

#131 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:04 PM:
(...He's interrogating because he's an interrogator, because he's following orders and interrogating is what he does. If he's doing it because of his father it actually makes too much sense.)

What one is resolved to do may be wrong, but I don't believe anyone is resolved to do anything because it's the wrong thing to do.

I can't match your cred as a writer, but I think people who cite duty as a reason for doing anything are out-and-out lying or deluding themselves. No one is resolved to fulfill a duty -- other than to tell you they fulfilled a duty and coerce you into doing something unpleasant they can paint the same. Imagine all of the unfulfilled duties they walk by everyday, it's a wonder they can cross the street. Everyone else personalizes their reasons.

Along the same lines, I don't think any torturer has a motivation that isn't personal, whether its some form of gratification or not. For my story it doesn't matter. I just wanted the story to avoid playing any "cards" people have already made up their minds on. I think I'm going to have to disagree with you on this issue, even to the detriment of the story. The topic may just not be suitable for me to express.

#132 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:20 PM:

Mike --

Duty is what you do so that you can like yourself in the future.

It's awfully hard to see how that ordinality of obligation isn't intensely personal, at least from over here.

#133 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:33 PM:
Duty is what you do so that you can like yourself in the future.

But we often have to be told what our duties are. There's very little intuition involved. Nobody is obedient or compliant so we will like ourselves. There's a huge element/aspect of performance in what we typically consider duty.

#134 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 09:46 PM:

Mike --

Might you be brought to consider that you are flinging yourself into the Pit of Foolish Overgeneralizations?

Especially if you want to resort to throwing dictionaries in a discussion of moral philosophy?

I think you terribly mistaken to conclude Nobody is obedient or compliant so we will like ourselves, in the bargain, but I don't think there's any profit to that line of reasoning (or the question of how it is agreed where duty lies) if you're going to hew to the notion that duty is necessarily a pejorative concept.

#135 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 10:22 PM:
I think you terribly mistaken to conclude Nobody is obedient or compliant so we will like ourselves, in the bargain, but I don't think there's any profit to that line of reasoning... certainly benefit from mentioning it easy enough, no hypocrisy there.

...(or the question of how it is agreed where duty lies) if you're going to hew to the notion that duty is necessarily a pejorative concept.

Is there anyone else besides Graydon who doesn't know who Joseph Campbell is, or doesn't think much of him also?

#136 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 10:36 PM:

When Campbell cites a cop who rescued a suicide attempt, he doesn't say the cop felt he had a duty to save his life. He quotes the cop, if I let that kid die, I couldn't have lived another day.

The cop made it personal was personal. Even you qualify duty as intensely personal -- that even makes my point, so I don't even know on what basis you have to call me foolish.

Jo criticized my story for making the interrogator's agenda personal rather than dutiful -- so what do you want from me?

#137 ::: Jackmormon ::: (view all by) ::: June 27, 2005, 11:02 PM:

The potential strength of the Gitmo Sutra is in the irony of the interrogator's attempts to turn himself into a hero. The turn into the everyday reality of the interrogator can work as well, but the most shocking (and effective) verses I've seen on this thread give an almost bare, almost unironized version of what Zen expressions would make sense to a torturer.

Your draft is extremely moving, and I do hope you continue to work on it. Earlier posters suggested, and I heartily concur, that "forwardable" is not the standard you should be aiming at: you've got the material of something much more here.

(A day or so ago I wrote up some reactions on my blog; click my name to get there. All my comments are intended to be constructive.)

#138 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:51 AM:

Why yes I don't think much of Joseph Campbell.

Perhaps the quote is: If I had let that young man go, I couldn't have lived another day of my life."[Joseph Campbell, with Bill Moyers. The Power of Myth. 1988. Doubleday, Page 110.]

Schopenhauer asks, in Campbell's phrasing, "how is it that a human being can so participate in the peril or pain of another that without thought, spontaneously, he or she sacrifices his or her own life to the other? How can it happen that what we normally think of as the first law of nature and self-preservation is suddenly dissolved?"

Schopenhauer's answer is..... but I'm not nearly so fond of any number of German philosophers as Joseph Campbell - though Campbell be described as a rightist on the campus.

No one is resolved to fulfill a duty -- other than to tell you they fulfilled a duty and coerce you into doing something unpleasant they can paint the same.

I certainly have no answers - but obs SF - Mr. Heinlein tells the story of the tramp and the highbutton shoe - One of Mr. Heinlein's talky characters says no one slouches at a Birkenhead Drill - I don't know why.

*Scott, Robert R .

Rank and organization: Machinist's Mate First Class, U.S. Navy. Born: 13 July 1915, Massillon, Ohio. Accredited to Ohio. Citation: For conspicuous devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and complete disregard of his own life, above and beyond the call of duty, during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces on 7 December 1941. The compartment, in the U.S.S. California, in which the air compressor, to which Scott was assigned as his battle station, was flooded as the result of a torpedo hit. The remainder of the personnel evacuated that compartment but Scott refused to leave, saying words to the effect "This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going."

#139 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 08:54 AM:
This is my station and I will stay and give them air as long as the guns are going.

If you take his words literally, they are nonsense.

They justify staying in a burning house, because he is the owner. Clarke, sometimes what people say has nothing to do with the good that they do.

I've done one military enlistment, and I've only come across one noble reason to become a soldier -- to be worthy of the company of the brave who die.

Fuck duty.

#140 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 09:30 AM:
I've done one military enlistment, and I've only come across one noble reason to become a soldier -- to be worthy of the company of the brave who die.

Now that I think of it, that's paraphrasing Joseph Campbell too.

No hero walks alone. He walks with every hero in history.
[Joseph Campbell, scribbled in the third stall of the restroom at Penn Station, 03 October 1927]
#141 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 10:50 AM:

Mike: My writing credentials are irrelevant beyond any merit in what I actually write. I think this is a good thing and I'm trying to help. I could shut up if that helps more.

The real torturers aren't doing it because they think the real detainees killed their fathers, they're doing it because it's their job. If they were doing it because they think (even in total surreal delusion) they they killed their father, I could appreciate it. But look at Lyndie England with the leash, look at any of those faces in those Abu Ghraib photographs and you see people who can do those things and find it good, and not for revenge, or as a quest, certainly not a personal revenge.

I really must have put that badly if you thought I meant doing wrong because it was wrong, that's not at all what I meant.

I think you did very well on a character who could get out of bed in the morning and do these things.

My point is that he could get out of bed in the morning and do these things because he's being paid $2000 a month to be a torturer for the US government, and while he's thinking about getting information from detainees with horrible methods he's also thinking about his wife and having his car-towed, not about the detainees. It's worse if he doesn't really care about the information he can't (in your wonderful Kafkaesque way) in any case receive. It's personal because it's his job, it's not personal beyond that.

I remember reading about one of the Nazi camp commandants whose wife said he was a wonderful husband and father, and I have thought ever since about working in one of those camps all day and coming home and sitting down to dinner and being an ordinary person. Because they weren't incomparable monsters, and I think that's a point really worth making.

#142 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 11:46 AM:
My writing credentials are irrelevant beyond any merit in what I actually write. I think this is a good thing and I'm trying to help. I could shut up if that helps more.

They are only relevant to me in that writing for me still considers those "things writers do" much like the characters in the story -- specifically engaging an audience in a craftspersonlike manner. Not saying this to continue this train of thought, but to address why I brought it up.

Your suggestion was to use the 9/11-justification for itself, and I want to avoid the reader's preexisting position on that event -- and creating an allegorical event that is received unevenly among the characters lends itself to being personal to those who feel its impact the most. However much you not shutting up helps me address points that need solving or minimizing I welcome. I can take it if you can.

There is no standing for me to ask anyone to trust me on this, other than watching Bush win reelection on a campaign that can be summarized as "we know we are strong from our dominance" -- with most voters feeling they'd been given no alternative choice to vote for. I feel that it's kinda been left to me to write this, however unfortunate for the cause. (And who knows how messed up that is more than I?)

#143 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 11:49 AM:

I like the Gitmo Sutras, although I have to take off my picky professional poet and professor hat, and react as a human being for best effect. I've already deemed them publishable, with my editor and publisher hat (well, ex-publisher, inclduing the magazine Space & Time). Putting a Taoist spin on the language structure adds to the cognitive estrangement (a defining aspect of Science Fiction, says Darko Suvin).

Jo Walton makes an important point with her Nazi husband anecdote. "What did you do at work today?"

"Same old, same old."

This is very impoprtant in understanding post-World War II culture.

"Evil is never 'radical,' is only extreme, and... it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension... It is 'thought-defying'...because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its 'banality.'"
[Hannah Arendt, 1964]

"The phrase 'the banality of evil' appears as the subtitle of Hannah Arendt's notorious report on the trial against Adolf Eichmann, one of the principal organizers of the Holocaust. Starting with the 1963 publication of Arendt's hugely controversial Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, the world which had not been preoccupied with the Holocaust in the 1950s suddenly sought to conceptualize the evil that had erupted in its midst. In the Nuremberg trials, the Nazis' crimes against Europe's Jews had not been a central issue, but were treated as one among several offenses. As the first global media event, covered by over 400 journalists and broadcast nightly on radio and television, the Eichmann trial revealed that the German crimes 'constituted an "unmastered past" [not only for Germans or Jews but] for the rest of the world.'"
[Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Viking Press, 1964), p. 283.]

There's a science-fictional aspect to the current postmodern war with high-tech gadgets, and the connection between technology, "just following orders," and banality of evil is studied famously in Stanley Milgram, Obedience to Authority [New York: Harper and Row, 1974], cited in Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World, p. 521, n.42.

#144 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 11:51 AM:

Again, thanks.

#145 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:07 PM:

re: banality of evil:

For the Eichmann's, the evil was banal. But someone somewhere made a decision to reserve the right to torture. I wrote the story to address that issue specifically.

Maybe some of you are taking for granted that torture is wrong, but how does what you take for granted, being unspoken, address the specific resolve to torture or to reserve it as a right? The first rule in the art of war could be summed for us as "you must attack resolve first." How can I not apply that in this case?

#146 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 12:49 PM:

Maybe I'm thinking about this backwards, but it seems to me the the tao te ching could be fairly described as a guide for moving away from banality. And as far as it was meant to be followed, it was meant to be followed purposefully. The poetic verse wasn't meant to be vague or ambiguous, but to allow for spontenaity -- for action. It doesn't say "just say no to banality."

In order for what I wrote to be interpreted as anything other than "just say no to torture," I felt it was necessary to address torture as an agenda. The wife is in jail, but she isn't isolated.

I've talked about this just about as much as I need to. I said thank you before, but I really am pleased with the story, so again thank you. Please tell your friends.

#147 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 01:04 PM:

Mike, in no particular order:

1. You've been playing with fire here. Bear in mind that for a while yet you're going to be oversensitive and hot to the touch.

2. Jo gives good advice.

3. Showing a character's motives in the course of a story can work, and sometimes work well; but explaining a character's motives as part of the supportive understructure of a story is a failure-prone maneuver.

4. Many a perfectly good story has been marred by the addition of a plot.

5. There's a lot I could say about revenge as a structuring and motivating plot element, but it would weigh too much for this discussion. What I will say is that in its current form, you have a person wielding public power in pursuit of private revenge. That doesn't illuminate the context in which he operates. It just illuminates the character himself.

6. Given the material you're working with, it would be a worthy feat to once mention the existence of Camel-Handlers Local 1414 without suffering a serious breach of tone. Used more than once, it causes serious distortions.

7. For some people, everything's personal, and abtract concepts like duty have no motivating force. No praise, no blame; it's part of their nature. For other people, such abstract concepts can be emotionally real and very srongly motivating; and this is likewise part of their nature. Both sorts are capable of good and evil.

#148 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 02:26 PM:
You've been playing with fire here. Bear in mind that for a while yet you're going to be oversensitive and hot to the touch.

Some of us live in burning houses. I have no interest in setting fire to anyone else's house. I am sorry.

#149 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: June 28, 2005, 03:38 PM:

I revised to mention the father was killed overseas, then drop the name of the union in the next chapter. After that, I mention the symbol one more time and refer to only the ring there after. Not sure if that has the effect you had in mind, but yes that has helped. I also acted on Jack's advice if it needs mentioning. And as much as Teresa modified Jo's advice, thank you too.

#150 ::: Mike ::: (view all by) ::: July 08, 2005, 06:57 PM:

I gave the story away on craigslist nyc. If flagging a story mentioning Camel Handlers Local 1414 a craigslist best-of is your bag, you have until the end of Monday to do so.

#151 ::: Jonathan Vos Post ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2005, 03:50 PM:

Bookslut Blog, 14 July 2005

"Representative Jim McDermott, D-WA, has introduced a bill (HR 3174) that if passed would require the Army to reopen the investigation into the death of a World War II Italian prisoner who was lynched at Fort Lawton in Seattle, Washington."

"McDermott became interested in the case after reading Jack Hamann's On American Soil, about the lynching of Private Guglielmo Olivotto and the subsequent court martial..."

#152 ::: janetl sees spam ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2010, 01:04 PM:


#153 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2010, 02:16 PM:

I didn't see this first time out.

I am not sure what I think of it. I can say it wasn't something I could read all of at a sitting.

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