by Andrei Codrescu
My cousin Yvonne and I grew up together in communist Romania in the 1950s
and 1960s. In the mid 60s we escaped from Ceausescu's national-socialist
utopia. She went to Israel. I came to the United States. In 1989, state
communism collapsed without much bloodshed -- except for our native Romania
where a moderately bloody "revolution" was staged for television.
It looked for a minute that the world was headed for democracy and
prosperity. It was a long minute, long enough for her children and mine
to grow into young adults who took liberty and middle-class comforts for
granted -- more or less. Mine more, hers less.
My cousin's daughter, Orna, a well-educated 23-year-old woman showed up one day and told me that she wanted to move to the United States, New York City, preferably, to lead as anonymous an existence as possible. Her mother would have liked her to be a doctor, like herself, but Orna preferred to be a waitress in New York. She explained that she had done her military service in Israel and was tired of living in a state of constant tension and fear, her gun always at hand.
She wasn't in New York on September 11th, and the innocence that she'd sought in the energetic anonymity of New York no longer exists. The terror and paranoia she wanted to escape is now in America.
After the Cold War, pundits hastened to proclaim the end of history. It was the end of ONE history, alright. All kinds of hungry ghosts came out of the suddenly thawed soil after the cold war -- nationalism and fundamentalism among them. Unfortunately, all strains will be played out. Communist police states had suppressed religious and ethnic conflicts, but not uprooted them.
The headiness of our victory in the Cold War did not last long: we have been constantly involved in ethnic-religious warfare from the moment the Soviet Union dissolved -- and not just abroad, but in our own country, as we saw in Oklahoma. The United States became the natural target for all haters of religious and ethnic tolerance, democracy, and the modern world in general.
Our officials are right to claim that this is a fight for the survival of our civilization. The suicide bombers died for the sake of a religious utopia. Even fanatical religious militarized states like Iran and Afghanistan are not pure enough for them. Ironically, they may force us to curtail some of our civic liberties, but never, I hope, to the point of resembling their authoritarian visions.
Our children can now look back with nostalgia on the last century. The coming struggle will be one of relentless effort to impose the values of the Enlightenment in a world still haunted by medieval fanaticism. It's the 18th century against the 12th. And Orna may have no choice but to be a doctor. Hospitals will be safer than restaurants.
ON OTHER MATTERS:
What is porn? Is it advertising? Is it the intersection of advertising and the Helms Right and the PC Left, a three-way intersection, the Narodny Trida of Contemporary Culture? Are our official morality discourses shipwrecking on the shoals of consumerism, or is consumerism-über-alles hijacking our bodies and using them in any porny way it pleases? Are we fucked, do we want to be fucked, or can we reduce it all to a matter of semantics and banish the word "fuck"? And what should we call it then, this huge objectification of ourselves and the world that every sonofabitch in power lies about? Can we rescue Eros from the suffocating embrace of BCS (Big Consumerist Screw)? All good questions that the ever-vigilant Corpse is asking in this issue. The focus of Corpse 10 is PORN, spelled either "porn," or "Porn." The Suzann Kole, PhD File investigates the pedophilia hysteria. Our other writers range across the field from the traditional landscape of sweet poetic Eros to the violent canyons of wall-streety S&M.
On another front, we issued an appeal for funds in the last Corpse. The appeal is still alive. We live in an appalling state of penury: we steal staples. Our mailing address is Exquisite Corpse, PO Box 25051, Baton Rouge, LA 70894. You can send us money, or you can go shopping at the Corpse Mall (one click away), purchase very cool objects, and pay with Pay Pal. In any case, we love you, our readers. We thank you most sincerely those of you who have contributed to our survival. We hereby name you Chevaliers du Cadavre, a singular honor. Your names are: Susan Rosch Fleming, Gary Wirfs, Marc Ellis, Sam Abrams, John Verlenden, Dennis Must, Mike Topp, Stephen Kirbach, Kevin Nichols, Darby McDevitt, Marcy Jarvis, Kass Fleisher, Richard Burrill, Jason Zalinger, Robert Elias, John Alexander Coleman, Holly Pettit, Kathleen Lynch, Frank Tonge, Joe Maynard, Rochelle Hartman, Margaret Orleans, Charles Briggs, Kenneth Rich, Carrie Rice, Peter Freund, Grady Wilson, Jeff Gundy, James Littlefield, Laurie McElroy, Michael Sorenson, Nick Eliopulos, Neno Perrotta, Randall Rader, Ruth Craig, Robert Koepcke, Teresa Libera, Thomas Gibbons, Ron Wirfs, Darrell Gray, Patricia M. Wilson, Rochelle Hartman, Sarah Littman, Mark N. Katz, Marina Hatch and George Nelson. You are handsome, brilliant, and you have earned yourselves permanent residence in the Garden of Earthly Delights.
Once again, we thank our proofreaders, Chevaliers du Cadavre, all: Robin Becker, Sharon Andrews, Teresa Bergen, Nat Hardy, Joe Scallorns, Dan McNarmara, Paris Tirone and Tim Dardis.
HOUSE NEWS: We are going to issue a CD containing all ten issues of the Cybercorpse, including the Corpse Café, for the low price of $15. Send an email here and we'll notify you as soon as it is available. This is going to be a very hot, very collectible item, the more so because after Issue No. 10, the Corpse Archives will be taken off the web to make room for the next issues.
Happy (shiny) trails,
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