Resist Thanatos! Celebrate Eros!
“America will…require increasing force levels…more than 20,000 additional American troops to Iraq.”
Thus spake the great God Thanatos through His servant, the Decider, the American Boy-King George II, as he gazed, cross-eyed and quivering, into the camera and right through his appalled audience, looking out into the abyss, the bloody apocalyptic Hades-on-Gaia that he and his greedy, bungling, war profiteering cronies and patsies have engineered in the blood-and-oil soaked sands of ancient Mesopotamia
This is the State of Our Union: the State of Thanatos. Death will surge on all sides. Perma-War will be escalated and diversified. Force will be augmented. In the President’s speech and the Amens of his choir (Cheny, Rice, Hadley) on the Sunday talk shows, there is no glimmer of light in the darkness of war, no path to peace. At first, they told us it would be a flower-strewn path, then a kind of tough “messy” path. Now there is no path at all. Only the path of Thanatos.
Bush has talked of God telling him to do various things before. “God told me to strike at Al-Qaeda and I struck them, and then he instructed me to strike at Saddam,” he intoned Biblically in a meeting with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. Now we know which God he was talking about.
Nobody talks much about Thanatos these days, except the occasional discontented Freudian. But the presence of the grim Lord of the Dearly Departed is more and more keenly felt. According to the Greeks, Thanatos is the fatherless son of Nyx (Night), twin brother of Hypnos (Sleep). In Euripides’ Alcestis, the handsome but deadly wingéd young male God coolly tells Apollo, “I win greater honor when the victims are young.”
Thanatos is no more merciful to victims of heart attacks than He is to victims of war. Death is always with us, a constant companion to life. Immortality is but a dream. There is no life without death, no Eros without Thanatos. Nevertheless, the Death God seems fiercest and most powerful in wartime, when so many of society’s strongest youth are killed in battle.There is something about being killed deliberately by our fellow humans that seems to twist the knife more sharply than death at the tides of nature.
Killing fellow humans is what Thanatos’ Man in the White House prides himself on. Bush is not a “War President,” like FDR or Lincoln. He’s a War Business President. He trades Deaths for Oil. The Shrub is a Lynching Tree, a Burning Bush of Apocalyptic Mass Destruction, an loyal servant of Thanatos. And now, even though all the President’s killing has produced nothing but grief, destruction, huge debt and a raging thirst for revenge, he’s eager to kill some more.
Everyone from Cindy Sheehan to James A. Baker III has been protesting this occupation we call a “war.” At least 70 percent of the American public wants to cut our losses asap. Yet Thanatos marches on. Bush has the urge to surge, and the Democrats, despite their sparkling new power and a clear mandate to end this war, don’t seem to be stopping him. America will send 17,500 additional troops into Baghdad where they will encounter the vicious and popular Mehdi army of Moktada al Sadr, and another 4000 into Anbar where they will fight the indefatigable Sunni “insurgents.” Who knows how many of these young American soldiers will be taken by Thanatos? Who knows how many more Iraqis will die? After the surge, the U.S. will probably have no more control over Iraq than we do now. But in the dark eyes of Thanatos, it doesn’t matter. Like other war profiteers, Death wins regardless of whose side is perceived as victorious.
In his necrophilic speech, Bush also threatened to attack Iran and/or Syria. Either he has not heard the message of the recent elections, or he has indeed heard it and is rushing to do as much damage as he can before he leaves or is forced from office. Hopefully, some pundits are right, and the surge is the last gasp of the Perma-War President. But this is cold comfort when prospects for the near future look utterly revolting. Bush’s plan smells like a rotting corpse.
So what’s a good Make-Love-Not-War gal or guy to do to resist the immeasurably Thanatoxic effects of the Bush administration? Fly the flag of Eros as high as you can! Yes, indeed, Brothers & Sisters, Lovers & Sinners, don’t let the inexorable doom and gloom of Thanatos bring you down. Speak out against the Bad Bush and celebrate the Good Bush (you know what I’m saying). Resist the Urge to Surge. And since it’s almost Eros Day, it’s a good time to pledge your allegiance to the Spirit of Eros in your life..
As those discontented Freudians remind us, Eros is the opposite of Thanatos. Thanatos being Death, Eros is Life. Yay! It’s good to be on the side of Life. Then again, it’s not so simple. This isn’t one of those black-and-white Battles between Good and Evil that the Red Staters love to fight. Eros has an edge. The word is, after all, from the same root as “erotic,” so it has something to do with sex. But we’re not just talking about Valentine sex here, true love, or procreation, or even just lust, porn, or recreational sex. We’re talking about the primordial sexual energy that is the essence of life (unless you’re a creationist). Yes, indeed.
According to Hesiod’s Theogony, written around 800 BCE, Eros is one of the four original Creators of the Universe, blowing the Breath of Life into all creatures, even the Gods. This is what I call “The Original Blow-Job.” And this is why, at least mythologically speaking, Eros gets the clout to counter Thanatos. In other Greco-Roman myths, Eros is portrayed in more human form, a handsome, mischievous teenager, the original male sex symbol, with glorious feathered wings and a potent quiver of golden arrows that do not kill their victims, but merely pierce their hearts with desire. In many artworks, Eros and Thanatos, shown together, look almost like twins with opposing characters.
As those of you who know me know, every year at this time, a few weeks after the menorahs and Xmas trees have been stashed and trashed, I observe the holiday of Eros Day. On Eros Day, we celebrate Eros, who is not only a great and powerful God according to classical mythology, but also a little phallic planetoid according to modern astronomy. We do this every year on the Saturday night closest to January 22, when the planetoid 433 Eros is closest to Earth. This year, we’ll celebrate on January 20. We also celebrate the Spirit of Eros, the idea of love, lust and peace in times of hate, greed and war.
Besides being a friendly neighborhood orgy, Eros Day is always a bit of a political party. Our Eros Day Counter-Inaugural Ball in 2005 protested the embarrassing inauguration (Sorry World!) of Thanatos into the Executive Branch. This year we will be administering Abu Ghraib-style torture to masked and hooded human effigies of Dubya, Dick and Condi (the American junta) and watching “The Beastly Bombing” singers satirize the White House resident, as well as body-painting and female ejaculation demonstrations (it’s holy water!). Is this just a silly liberal excuse to get our sexual jollies with a veneer of political activism? Perhaps. But it sure beats singing “God Bless America” while looking the other way as Thanatoxic atrocities are committed in our name. Call it Progressive Hedonism, Blue Values, the Bonobo Way or Faith-Based Sex, it’s the Spirit of Eros, the same sexy trickster spirit that infused the anti-war movement of the Vietnam years with passion and an erotic fervor that is mostly lacking from the anti-war movements of the Iraq years.
So celebrate Eros Day! Party on for Eros and stop Thanatos dead in His tracks: Honor those who refuse to fight and demand that Congress stop paying for Bush’s war and start impeachment proceedings upon this Thanatoxic war criminal now.