Bill Totten's Weblog

Thursday, February 10, 2011

The Mummy's Tomb

by James Howard Kunstler

Comment on current events by the author of
The Long Emergency
(2005) (February 07 2010)

... President Mubarak has about as much chance of sticking around his presidential palace another fortnight as a bluebottle fly has of conducting the next Easter mass at the Vatican.

-- Last week's Clusterfuck Nation blog

Oh well, poor call there. It seems that the College of Cardinals actually located an eager bluebottle fly named Franci Vafanculo in Naples and is having him fitted for vestments. The Latin instruction isn't going as well as hoped, but he can always just stand there and buzz. Most people's thoughts are on the ham dinner that follows, anyway.

Meanwhile, and speaking of hams, down in the Ancient Kingdom of the Nile, another curious transformation is taking place: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is metamorphosing from a flesh-and-blood pharaoh into that most enduring of Old World personalities, a mummy, to be entombed in the presidential palace for all time with his entourage of scribes, police captains, publicity managers, and boatloads of bejeweled scimitars laid upon him by fellow satraps and potentates of the region over the many years of his natural reign.

Mubarak-as-mummy will be much more comprehensible to his American auditors in the White House and Department of State, since the only things that Americans really seem to understand these days, or even care about, are matters supernatural. The regrettable piece of the story is that Mubarak didn't turn into vampire or a zombie, two existential conditions that we are now the world's experts in as we feast daily on the material remnants of our own empire.

Case in point: the Superbowl halftime show. My Gawd, what a farrago of auto-erotic triumphalism tarted up in the raiment of techno-grandiosity. The renowned Black Eyed Peas vocal krew descended on cables from the ethers of Cowboys Stadium stuffed into carapace-like costumes that lit them up like robotic waterbugs while something like a thousand worshipful myrmidons in LED-rigged suits capered about the pulsating stage like bits of discarded CGI FX from the latest installment of the Tron saga. Message: this is a nation so dangerously intoxicated on fumes from the arson of its own culture that it will soon melt down into a smoldering puddle of techno-narcissistic glop. Our bread and circus hijinks (or, should I say, Nacho and Fuhball), make the late Romans' antics look like a simple summer evening at the frog pond. In fact, nothing would make me happier in 2011 than the coming-true of the threatened NFL "lock-out" - except maybe if Senator Jim DeMint (Republican, South Carolina) were nabbed in flagrante delicto at a Super-8 Motel with a nineteen-year-old sheet-rocker of the undocumented persuasion. For that, I would definitely open the bottle of Lambrusco that somebody left at my Christmas party.

Back in Cairo, events have momentarily devolved to a standoff between the mummy's minions and a lot of people who are, apparently, just sick of the old grinding status quo that had Mubarak-Ho-Tep funneling the endless fruits of their miserable labors into the vaults of banks here, there, and everywhere. The Web is notoriously shifty where facts are concerned, of course, but somewhere in The Cloud I saw the mummy's ill-gotten family fortune estimated at around $50 billion. That's a lot of tana leaves, any way you cut it, and of all possible outcomes in the script-factory, recovering the loot would seem the least likely scenario.

More interesting to watch right now are the peculiar gyrations of the US Government, which is acting a bit like a victim of Tourette Syndrome, with various figures up to the president himself emitting strange blurted squawks that resemble policy pronouncements but lack both conviction and official sanction. What it adds up to are the rather painful exertions of a world power that has lost its power to affect events in the world. I imagine that leaders in other nations - and even their rivals for leadership beyond the levers of power - have not failed to notice the American impotence over Egypt. But then, to me it's not so much different than watching the US government's ineffectual dealings with its own affairs, especially the ones involving money. Virtually everything about them is false, dishonest, mendacious, and ruinous.

The Middle East gives every sign of blowing up into widespread disorder these coming weeks and months. We hear other little splurts and wheezes from the media sidelines to the effect that all this hugger-mugger could end up expressing itself at the US gas pumps - the only touch-point in American life where reality meets perception. To put it a little more bluntly, you kind of wonder when the people around the region might really start blowing stuff up. Revolution, once started, is rather like the insidious invasion of water through the eaves of a house when the ice-dams build up (as they are doing now all over the northeastern US). Seeps appear here and there on the junctions between the wall and ceiling, and before you know it an electric circuit inside the wall starts sparking, and that's all she wrote for your house. Water within, water without, first the flood, the fire next time ...

But perhaps I wax a little too theoretical. As the week begins here, with all the smoke and confetti cleared from Texas Stadium, there is one sole dominating truth that really matters: the stock market only goes up.


Mr Kunstler's biography is at

Bill Totten


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