Fire Survivors

  • After the Demonstration Failed
    These are some of the very few photographs that survived the 1983 fire that destroyed my life's work, not just most of my pictures but nearly all my writing including two books in progress and all the associated research. Some of these photos shown here escaped the flames because they were with me in my portfolio case; others were produced digitally from negatives dug out of the rubble a year later. The images of obvious print-quality were made on DuPont Varilure paper, which had the highest silver content of all commercial papers and thus produced such intense tonalities, they often seemed illuminated by their own internal light sources. But that sort of photographic quality is now forever beyond our common reach, either gone like Varilure or so prohibitively expensive it is available only to the obscenely pampered dilettantes who produce the aesthetic pabulum favored by the One Percent. Photography as I knew it is dead -- as dead as my career was after the fire and its ensuing clinical depression -- but this body of work provides a glimpse of what was lost and what might have been. All photos copyright Loren Bliss.

Sandwiches for Mind and Spirit

  • Goddess emergent (1), 1968 (blue variant c. 2009)
    In photography, a sandwich is a collage made by printing two or more negatives simultaneously. Collage is a medium that has fascinated me for as long as I can remember -- probably since I was a child experimenting with finger paints, glue and newspapers -- but I never took it seriously until, sometime in my early 20s and still thinking myself a painter-to-be, I discovered the works of Jasper Johns. Now it seems to me making sandwiches is to conventional photography what poetry is to prose: not just an intellectual exercise, but the opening of a doorway to the Mysterious Otherness I know as the Muse, from whom (sometimes in fulfilment of that McLuhanesque notion of art as prophecy) the currents of real creation invariably flow, whether swift and startling as a lightening strike or slow and soft as cottonwood seeds adrift on subtle summer air. (Collage and photographic sandwiches copyright Loren Bliss 2009-2012.)

Graffiti: a Sampler

  • Gun Graffiti
    When I returned to New York City in 1965 I was immediately impressed by the contrast between the graffiti I had encountered "out in America" -- the South and Middle West -- and what I saw in Manhattan. While the form and content of graffiti is sociologically important – possibly a semiotic indicator without peer -- I found the graffiti of Manhattan singularly appealing, the intellectual and aesthetic equivalents of a long-overdue breath of fresh air, and within a few days I had begun documenting it with 35mm and 120 film. (The opening photograph of this series was obviously made far from Manhattan, but I included it to establish an essential contrast.) Many more details about this particular body of work, which I briefly resumed when I went back to the City again in 1983, then abandoned after that year's career-terminating fire, are in my post of January 7, 2010. Yes I regard the best urban graffiti as genuine art, but too much of it, alas, is nothing more than a human variant on the mammalian practice of marking territory with spurts of urine: "I wuz here." All photos by Loren Bliss, copyright dates as noted.

Faces of the Fight

  • Health Care For All!
    Supporters of health care reform and a much smaller number of health care reform's opponents -- each faction identified by its picket-signs -- gathered for the "town hall" meeting called by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) in Lakewood on August 25, 2009. Originally set for Lakewood City Hall, the event was rescheduled and moved to Lang Stadium to accommodate an unprecedented mobilization of pro-reform people. Cops estimated the crowd at about 2500. Photos by Loren Bliss copyright 2009.

INTRODUCTION

  • Outside Agitator's Notebook is an ongoing anthology of dispatches from dystopia – the post-humanitarian United States of America and its ever-expanding global-conquest empire, the de facto Fourth Reich. OAN's core topic is thus our intensifying resistance to subjugation by capitalism. ¶And what is capitalism? Though it is traditionally defined as merely an economic system, it is in fact a system of empire-building, chiefly by conquest, and post-conquest world governance patterned after the management of antebellum slave plantations. Behind its cloak of seductive euphemisms ("easy credit," "economic freedom," "self-made man," "entrepreneur," "no down payment," "you too can be rich" etc. ad nauseam), it is the ultimate evil of global dictatorship by the One Percent, a tiny, ruthless cabal of capitalist aristocrats for whom infinite greed is the ultimate virtue. Under this Bhopal-deadly, Ayn Rand ethos of serial-killer moral imbecility, these obscenely wealthy tyrants impose on our homeland the paradigm of overtly fascist governance by which they have always ruled abroad – absolute power and unlimited profit for themselves, bottomless poverty and zero-tolerance oppression for all the rest of us. ¶Now – in a slow-motion, often velvet-gloved version of how the people of Chile were savaged by the U.S. puppet Pinochet – we of the USian 99 Percent are enslaved by debt; bankrupted by the outsourcing of our jobs; foreclosed into homelessness; imprisoned in numbers hitherto unequaled in human history; and even when allegedly “free,” confined in the inescapable electronic concentration camp of total surveillance. Then – cast off as “surplus human capital” – we are exterminated: slaughtered as cannon-fodder in the empire's endless wars of conquest; murdered by the bullets and truncheons of the newly federalized local police; slain by deliberately genocidal policies cunningly disguised as "austerity" – all this while the capitalists pornographically multiply their wealth by knowingly destroying the environment upon which all sentient life depends. ¶As it says in a poignant anthem grown increasingly popular far beyond its video-game origin, “the night is long and the path is dark,” for at present our ability to resist is methodically crippled by inferior schools, sensationalist media and the psychological terrorism of manufactured crises foreign and domestic. ¶The One Percent perfected these measures and built its prototype Moron Nation – the state of conditioned helplessness and hopelessness against which we now rise up in righteous anger – in the post-Civil-War South, where the capitalists perfected Christian theocracy as its brain-police and organized the Ku Klux Klan – there colloquially known as “the Saturday Night Men’s Bible-Study Class” – as its original death squad. ¶Now as then, the Ruling Class belittles our demands for justice as the product of “Outside Agitators” and retaliates with job terminations, lockouts, mass arrests, torture and homicide whenever we resist, as in fact we did with (temporary) success in both the Labor Movement and the Civil Rights Movement. History therefore proves oppression is not permanent, even as the devastating impermanence of our victories proves the only sure end to capitalism's oppressiveness is to end capitalism itself. ¶It is at this juncture my personal history becomes relevant. Though I got my first union card at age 16, I did not begin overt resistance until June 1963, when I was jailed in Knoxville, Tennessee for my public support of the Civil Rights Movement. The trumped-up charges against me were soon dismissed, but the racist hatefulness they engendered continued unabated, provoking three retaliatory murder attempts I survived by a combination of expert-class firearms skills, superior driving ability and most of all the vigilant protection provided by a beloved German shepherd named Brunhilda. The last of the racists' attacks, in August 1964, was with poison aimed at dear Brunhilda herself, as a result of which she died in agony. It is in her memory I embrace the "Outside Agitator" label. It is a choice all the more appropriate given that art under patriarchy – whether capitalist or socialist – is always revolutionary agitation, and the artist whether male or female is therefore always an Outside Agitator.

RELEVANT WEBSITES

  • Best Site for Suppressed Assassination Facts
    The late Mae Brussell was our most relentless researcher into the murder of President John Kennedy and many other such outrages. Her legacy is a damning list of the USian Empire's darkest secrets.
  • Common Dreams
    A crowd-funded Leftist news service, with good reporting but discussion threads often dominated by rant wars between atheists and New Agers.
  • Communist Labor Party
    Communism as it is evolving in the United States after the murder of the American Dream and the slaying of the U.S. experiment in representative democracy.
  • Communist Labor Party's Harry Bridges Club (Facebook)
    Communism as it is evolving in Tacoma, Washington.
  • Consortium News
    Superb reporting and analysis. Founder/Editor Robert Parry exposed Iran-Contra and has been persecuted by the capitalists ever since.
  • der Spiegel
    Mainstream German newspaper that is often a valuable source of news about Western European politics.
  • Gun Owners of America
    Fanatically hard-Right (and often ChristoFascist as well), it is nevertheless the best source for information about the One Percent's efforts to forcibly disarm the U.S. 99 Percent.
  • International Marxist Archive
    All of Marxism's defining texts defiantly uploaded to the Internet by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics as its final contribution to humanity's eternal struggle for economic democracy -- without which there is no democracy at all.
  • People's World
    The official newspaper of the Communist Party of the United States of America, often with the best news analysis available from any major U.S. website.
  • Popular Resistance
    A daily newsletter featuring informative (albeit sometimes amateurishly written) reports of news suppressed by the "mainstream media" propaganda machine.
  • Reader Supported News (RSN)
    The best crowd-funded news website in the United States. Its superb and notably civil discussion threads feature an unusual preponderance of well-informed, articulate participants.
  • RT
    Formerly "Russia Today," it accurately covers U.S. news the "mainstream media" propaganda machine suppresses, examples including Occupy and Black Lives Matter.
  • Second Amendment Foundation
    Unmistakably conservative, it is also the best source on legal action in defense of our right to keep and bear arms.
  • Socialist Worker
    Marxism from Leon Trotsky's viewpoint, with news reporting that is nevertheless superior to anything fed us by capitalism's "mainstream media" propaganda machine.
  • Southern Poverty Law Center
    Best source of information on the burgeoning plague of Nazi, ChristoFascist and KuKluxKlan-type hate groups in the USian imperial homeland.
  • TASS, the Russian Wire Service
    Vital reading, especially now that the USian Empire's plans for global conquest have rekindled the so-called Cold War.
  • Thom Hartmann Blog
    Interesting, often thought-provoking commentary with typically lively but usually civil discussion threads.
  • TruthOut
    Generally reliable crowd-funded news site sometimes featuring cogent sociological analysis by Henry Giroux and subtly poetic essays by Rebecca Solnit. Discussion thread's potential limited by Discus, which discourages posting of comments written off-site.
  • Ultra Violet
    By far, the most genuinely integrated (and therefore most effective) gender-equality organization in the United States..
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