thoughts on “the situation”
I know I’m not the only person in the world who, not living near the Malheur Wildlife Refuge, cares about the Malheur Wildlife Refuge – or really, any of the wide, open parched lands of southeastern Oregon. I’ve known, of course, that people who don’t live there, but, like me, have family roots or cultural histories that are tied to the place care about it. Not just because there are hot springs and ghost towns and eerie, cragged mountains, but because the land there has been a site of literal and symbolically micro-cosmic conflict since 1832, in one kind of way [forever every direction into the distance for longer.] I know, of course, that I’m not the only one who cares or has cared about the histories of Harney and Malheur Counties stretching long, deep and wide, where lava flows met oceans, where the Miocene and Pliocene epoch stretched out to the volcanoes of the central west, where grandparents kept their woven sandals in caves 10,000 years ago, to be found by sheepherding boys throwing rocks into hollows. And the more I’ve been personally obsessed/committed/critically obsessed/involved – with dedicating everything I’ll ever do towards fixing/solving/smoothing/burning/ the conflicts between ranchers in Eastern Oregon and ________ –
Everything else in the world?
The birds and the wolves
The coyotes and the cougars
Anybody else who doesn’t look like you – Mr – Mr – Mr –Mr – ———————– with your bronze hats buckling over your sneer let me look at your teeth
I know of course I don’t own Oregon anyway, but its piquing when the outline of a state is fetishized along with a fir tree to sell LOCAL BEER smiling face in even low rent grocery stores while the crumbling city streets that you live on stay crumbled but everybody’s house is now a condo, et al, and yours is now worth a million dollars while the walls fall down – the New York Times showing an interest in your coffee I guess, the outline of the trees – it’s a bit funny, already, with the cute cute how cute! Omg so PORTLAND 😀 😀 😀 D: D: 😀 D: D: 😀 oww woo hippy feminists patchouli antivaxx OMGGGG rampant and raving and gasping in the New New new seasons and mountain bike trails, but I always thought, well haha, ok, ok, have your valley where the valley meets the gorge. Have your silly old port city it can weather anything, its streets are litter built on roads smothering paths, she’ll weather whatever, come on down. But the new York times.. in Harney County?
The guardian in Malheur. Buzzfeed telling me ten things I need to know to understand the complicated tragedy of fences, shit, blood terror, clouds, screaming, needles, pines, rocks and sandals and broken bones and wool and threads and blankets and hawks and –
Well it feels like another invasion. The invaders now, what have they meant?
When you tread upon the ground it is force. When you tread upon the ground and mistake the soil for rocks, your feet apply force to the world you stand on. When you tread upon the soil or dig your hands in and mistake trillions of teeming, squirming, reaching grasping micro-bacterial-organisms for solid still broken bits of old granite not even dead for millennia but never even the right kind of alive, you swallow their souls along with their skeletons. Every step is force – every gesture through the air, is a violence.
Every wave is an invasion. Invasions are force. What man shot liberty valence, and why? What good are your legal books in the west. What good is this reading. What good are these laws. The law is a gun in my hand you see. The power of my weight is my white, white fence.
When an OPB reporter politely and firmly interviewed Ammon Bundy last week, presumably within earshot of birds and standing on the dirt, near a fence, Bundy explained the situation with a neat metaphor, casually gendering/anthropomorphizing/inventing the soul of the GOVERNMENT as thing with a body(male) and IDEAS and, counter-likely, constructed the idea of RANCHERS as a BODY(male/white) with the ability to stand still. Why are you here, Ammon Bundy?
“This is the government of the lunch line.” He meant the federal government is a bully, and it is cutting in front of MEN standing IN LINE like goddamn MEN DO WHEN THEY HAVE THEIR PROPERTY THEY BOUGHT WITH THEIR MONEY THEIR GRANDFATHERS BOUGHT WITH MONEY THEY STOLE THE DIRT NOT EVEN KNOWING THAT IT WAS ALIVE
“push him out” “verbal or physical force” “the government of the lunch line”
“We have not disrupted anyone’s lives” “We have not encroached on anyones private property”
“The schools are shut down” “To say that lives have not been disrupted lives is not realistic” “Granted”
“The armed occupation for the refuge was spontaneous” . . . “From this facility right here is where the charges came from
“It has taken 100 ranchers out to make this place”
“Destroying property rights of people” “Destroying their rights and liberty”
“we haven’t touched a single personal item” we haven’t touched computers etc. “we’re not here to hurt people . . . that’s not our intent.”
“Let’s turn to the second amendment. What does it say. A well regulated militia” blah blah blah.
“Quite frankly I want to put it this way. We are not a terrorist organization. We are not using terrorism. We are not trying to use extreme fear”
“I think that’s ridiculous” said Bundy. “I don’t buy into the racist thing, I think that we should all be equal” said Bundy. Don’t forget that he said that. That’s important. Do you see how that means everything? My paraphrase: I don’t buy it. The world is my body and my feet are everywhere. I penetrate everything with my body parts and my corpulence covers the earth, feel me inside of you digging in. I think everything is… I think we all should be …
“Sure, they do have a claim… [Paiute people] Here’s the thing about natural law . . .”
“The federal government are liars”
The federal government are liars:
The thing about natural law is I can crush your history with my belly. The thing about natural law is the state is my crushing body. The thing about natural law is I do not know what the words mean that I am saying, but I am the foot of empiricist impericism emperial empiricism feel my body, the state, swallowing your past with my false blank pit of memory where the feminized secrets of the dirt are burnt alive.
[i hear ammon bundy say]
Hey ranchers did you know you built the government in Oregon, do you want to read a paper on it? I’ve been writing it for eight years. My blood is on it and you can drink it if you put your mouth up to the ink long enough. Don’t be scared of the taste.
There are other books. You could read those, if you like. Do you want to know about the law? Do you want to know about 1832, 1834? Do you want to know about Ewing Young, who stole his cows from Mexico, abandoned his wife with babies on a mountain in Nevada, and brought the private praise be private hallowed private stolen property he stole from mexico, from Mexicans in mexico, stole from them, stole cows, here, to set up a thieves’ ring of grazing domineering devastation, stole from mexico stole from mexico stole from mexico? Do you know about the wolf that bit Pryor’s hand? They are numerous in this country did you hear. Do you know where the graves are by the ferries on the river? Do you know how the land went from held to a power mill to a broken swamp with bridges rotting in the wet? Do you know where the graves aren’t, where the tunnels caved in, in the silent, screaming dark? Do you know where the bodies are buried? Do you know where the men were hung? Do you know about the men who were shot and their bones and braids sold by bits to tourists from New York City and we’ll never know if some jolly collector’s great grandchild has a basement in Brooklyn with someone else’s body-longing memories locked up in dust?
Hey ranchers you built the theft the lies the exclusions. You built private property. Hey men, with your blustering boots: you put up the fences. You put them up, you put up the fences, you put up the fences, you burnt down the streams you put up the fences. You put up the fences. You dried up the rivers. We can’t eat fish because of your beef. If you want to farm, farm guinea pigs. You put up the fences don’t fence me in. Give me lots of land. Your culture isn’t as old as you think its. Your false history is built like a lie like Chairman Mao’s Chinese Medicine. Give me open skies above. You pretend 150 years is a long time. It’s been a while, it feels like a long time with these fences digging into our skin. Let me ride through the wide But once they’re gone, it won’t feel like
Nothing Open country that I love You built the fences, Under starry skies above nothing won’t feel like send me off forever but I ask you please nothing send me off forever but I ask you please
images from USGS report: http://pubs.usgs.gov/bul/2183/report.pdf