Benjamin Suzuki: journal – I

From the journal of Benjamin Suzuki:

1. While on the Oregon Appellate Court

At home, Salem Oregon

During the French African/Arab riots of 2005

The young are a reproductive pulse which flows as it can. We live too long now. That pulse has disjoined from the false innocence of procreation; it abides for its own sake, brutal in its detached need. If we isolate this pulse further, should we be surprised that it grows monstrous before us, destroying to proclaim its difference?

This is what France has done. What rivulets might have directed this pulse, diffused somewhat its crest, have been proclaimed antagonistic to the nation. Islam, a labyrinth of diversion, is deemed anti-French. Young adolescent women cannot wear head scarfs to public school. France does not see that these young women, these small stones in the riverbed, offer resistence to a singly directed pulse, a pulse grown huge in unemployment and cultural ostracism. Their faith is not in the mosque but in their daily steps, their travail through the sludge of being other than French. The State proudly proclaims religious neutrality: no religious symbols, including crosses, are permitted. The terrible head scarf must go, as would any other sign of religious obligation–if there. For, more often than not, the cross is now but decoration. So an exemption is made for small crosses around the neck, decorative but not religious. But the terrible head scarf of girls must go.

The terrible head scarf. Girls, young women in biology, ready to tackle Voltaire. All the State has done is lose an ally. Those eternally bright eyes ready to swirl a bit of the current around them are downcast, impotent, ashamed. Life is school; school denies religion; but Islam is life. Islam and the pulse become aligned–this was not meant to be.

If only these young women, old enough to conceive but too young to bear a child, if only these would en mass go to their schools in their head scarves, sit in their classes with eyes of innocent protest, shame the State to confront its frigid hysteria. If only these women would be the army of Allah, against the State, against the pulse which cannot ask to be but always is, against the heritage of Islam itself. That would be the free exercise of religion, natural right beyond any articulated bill, terrible life, terrible because beyond our reach, terrible because a presence which does not ask us to be, yet is. But so are we terrible to them.

Let them come. Let them come, sit, waiting to learn, waiting in their devastating emblems of unyielding commitment, as unyielding as breath. Gandhi, King, your tools are still here. Always here, the foreign pulse of life, interfacing with itself. Then why, why is the flowering of innocent protest so rare?


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

2. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

shortly after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announces an agreement to open the boarder of Gaza, before election of Hamas.

What do you expect of them, Condoleezza? What do you demand that they be? The control of people was all there was. Now we would release them, open the cage, threatening the consuming mouth to a lesser meal. A redirected social flow of resources threatens the antecedent brutal hand. Brutal to its own to lift food to its mouth, unavoidable corollary to the blanket punishing of social relations which we call Western kindness.

Having starved them, some must die. You know this. I see the hard satisfaction of future destruction in your face. It is unavoidable–someone must die. We hooting primates in the stadium only ask that it not be us. That would be unfair. It would. One injustice among many. We are reduced to the distribution of unfairness. Perhaps justice is just a peculiar distribution of injustice. Absorb the fire of loss and wait for the later, the after, the nothing but memories.

We must watch them kill themselves until they see it will not work. Until the brutality is exhausted, until desperate need is supplanted by the hope of growth. Then, Condoleezza, Israelis must die. The brutal hand will try to shut the door again. What so many have made, so many we’s, so many them’s, knows how to survive. Shall we tell the Israelis some must be martyrs? That they must absorb the coming bombings to keep the doors open, to drown the brutal hand in horrible possibility?

Justice is the refusal to punish the contingently innocent, irrespective of the causal chain which has lead to harm, a chain often employing contingent innocents. It must, somehow, somewhere, engage nonviolently, absorbing violence with indirect reply. But abstractions absorb nothing; only people do. Bodies to burn so that an abstraction may endure. The distribution of sacrifice is all there is, gentles. All there is.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

3. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

shortly after the “Gaza” entry

Condi [Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State], return to the past. To the destructive hand which was to clear the land for creation. To the commanding height of invasion. A young cleric faces our military with his militia, garrisoning the fortress of mosque. Martyrdom is inevitable, perhaps even for him, courage fitfully distributed as bullets.

Faith breeds faith. This army of Allah, poor save for its resolved hatred, save for the seal of sacrifice binding the mouths of those they rape for controlled comfort; this army promises, for brief hope in murder, an alternative: an image from the Qur’an. Masses marching to shield our army from Allah. Masses marching to become the hand of Allah, against Allah.

Ayatollah Sistani calls for 100,000 men to gather in their mosques, to march with him to prevent slaughter, to prevent martyrdom, to prevent our transubstantiation into Satan. An army of empty hands marching, fed by streams of faith, by bystanders on the path, food miraculous the true proof of faith. Food donated by invisible hands, hunger endured unknown, sacrifice on the backs of the traveled. Resources mobilized, flowing with the men, flowing with Sistani, flowing as when Mohammed marched, weaponless but in number, to Mecca, for entry to worship. Resources flowing into a people imprisoned by the protection of Allah, resources, men, food, hope, which allow the protected to rebel. The cleric’s militia has no one to protect: Allah has confronted Allah and withdrawn. Only a god can do that.

It never happens. U.S. forces and cleric militia both fear the impotence Sistani portends. They agree to mutual withdrawal, preserving their violence for another day. Still, the dawn call is headed. Men gather at their mosques. A mortar if fired. A mosque collapses, dozens dead, weighted by faith, the rising nonviolent hand of Allah slapped down.

There would have been more deaths like these, if that weaponless army had marched. Perhaps Sistani himself. Nonviolence is the absorption of death. And there is so much death in this land of American hope.

There would have been more death if the weaponless had risen. Different deaths. An allocation of death for a different future. Consider today, Condi. Shiites bombed in worship, unwilling entrants to paradise. Could that early stand against both America and militia have mattered? Could that flow of resources against violence have shifted the stream, ripples against the sustenance of suicide; merchants, vendors, with hope, hope to quash the suicide, hope not of imperial largesse, hope rather of common faith which grows irrespective of personal travail; which creates economic demand through the grand act, confronting the controlled rage of battle not one’s own.

So the genius of Gandhi’s Salt March, releasing the brutality of frustration in the simple act of boiling the sea. Unnamed hands holding the protest alight, feeding it, clothing it, holding it in the exhaustion of its sleep, these are the hands which can shift history. Chains of hands which redirect the flow of resource and obligation, prospering in the name of altruism, prospering in sacrifice to the nation, to the people, to God.

Condi, could Sistani’s march have channeled possibility away from suicide? Released new fear to direct their resolve elsewhere? Yes, it would be new fear shielding those mosques–if it worked. Not a harmony of interests where all prosper. No; fear which smothers the resolution of mutual destruction before it grows. Nonviolence is a new distribution of fear, Condi. Is that heartening?

A new distribution of fear, a new distribution of death. From a God’s eye not new in kind. Perhaps that is why nonviolence works–on occasion.

Gandhi, I come to you again. How did you face the new fear, the new deaths? By denying their presence? No. You faced what you created in your first fast–a fast against what you had unleashed. This the whining minor key of nonviolence, the litany of the used, required to enjoy their suffering. First victim being yourself. Nonviolence being the dampening of the wave, energy channeled elsewhere–at a cost.

Now, Condi, the hard, final question of this fantasy: are we willing to abide reduced suicide? Gods on Olympus, debating the distribution of fear, our own worst fear being our portending irrelevance. That day our army faced the cleric’s militia–our true enemy was Sistani, no? And we won. Well, something won. Not us. Never us.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

4. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

shortly after the failure of cloture in Senate deliberation on renewing the Patriot Act

Our world is endangered for an idea. Not the world. Our world, inclusive, coercive, patriotic, our. Curious such vehemence comes from those whose daily lives are essentially immune from the outcome of deliberation. Certainly careers may come or go via election or political alliance. But this is not the jeopardy the Patriot Act evokes. At stake is a world, not a career, beyond our reach. Whether the Act be modified or renewed as is, the world evoked is not our world–yet it is. We battle for a world not ours, calling it ours nonetheless. This the terrible largesse of humanity, that we will, we must, reach out to shape worlds beyond our lives.

It cannot be stopped. We abide in others, and the networks thereby created stretch beyond our lives. I clasp my friend’s hand and the ground of others rumbles. How we confront this otherness identical in abstract to ourselves is the heart of nonviolence. When the tremor we have made creates a returning wave, a wave of people, not water, how do we respond?

Nonviolence risks the pummeling drown. Nonviolence risks being wrong unto death, but the death of innocents, not architects of policy. Nonviolence risks reply, refuses to preempt reply. Refusing to preempt, nonviolence recognizes that there can be no life without the potential for death. It is the turning away of death, a turning among those unknown to us, which is the replication, the transmission of nonviolence afar. Only possible if we place a lamb on the alter for slaughter, leaving knife for another to take–or not. Or not.

Death trailed Martin Luther King, Jr. In the cities he visited violence erupted, a man died, perhaps for whys less sacred than civil equality. When asked how he endured this enamored stalker, he replied he but placed in light what lived daily in shadow. As though the smaller deaths in segregated life coalesced into a larger death in his presence. An easy answer, Martin. True, perhaps, but easy. The ending death is not as the smaller ones.

It would be better, Martin, to admit nonviolence wields violence. To admit those riots which followed you were part of you. That you and yours strategized on the response of city administration to the violence which must erupt. You did not ask for this violence. You did not flame it higher. No, you sought to contain is as contagion. The first enemy of nonviolence is the afflicted.

You did not walk away from these eruptions of futile vengeance. You knew they would come, and you used them. The terrorist and nonviolent share ground. To control the violence–well, not control, never controlled, no more than love is controlled–to contain, then, to contain the fire; to contain the fire you offered the knife to slaughter you as lamb. You threw it out into the dark, hoping to hear its muffled fall to ground unseen. Finally someone saw it, picked it up. How many times before that day did unseen hands stay the descending arm, preventing the return slaughter? How many times did nonviolence work afar, saving you beyond your knowing?

Martin, do you know what the torturers in the citadels of today say? How many bombs do our torturers forestall from ever being? As you, they evoke a process in the world’s greater dark and say it makes the world we know better. You differ only in this: you offered yourself as sacrifice; they will not. But, Martin, that knife you throw into the dark, must it fly back only to your heart? Why not to some other? It can; it did; it will. People took that knife into their body for you, knowingly or not. A little girl did that.

Today, Martin, we have no self appointed sacrifice. Today we have unbodied principle, unbodied ideal. “Sorry,” mutters our ideal, “I cannot absorb the knife. One of you must do it. If no one volunteers, I will choose; maybe a bystander will do in a pinch.” If we close the secret prisons; if we forbid extraterritorial kidnaping; if we stop sending detainees to countries less delicate with the moral niceties of torture; if we force our President into the contours of the Fourth Amendment; if we remove from the Patriot Act the ambiguous crime of associating with those who may be associating with terrorists; if we do all this, or just some of it, we will be throwing the knife again into the greater dark. But without preassigned victim, who might be ignored in any case. Not one knife into the dark–many. Likely, almost certainly, some of these will return to pierce hearts–well, your heart, hopefully not mine. A terrible faith to believe that out in that dark hands grapple with hands to prevent knives from coming home. A terrible faith to think some in that dark know what it means to toss that knife in self-jeopardy. As terrible a faith as Paradise.

Will the victims of terrorism hate me as much as the throwing hand? Will they cry out in indignation for being used in this great war of Belief? Bodies as points to tally during the halftime show.

Nonviolence is at war again. It is always at war. This time against the concept of preemption. In preemption lies the death of risk; without risk nonviolence cannot be–only the certainty of the controlling, crushing hand. As always, the first enemy of nonviolence comes from the world which birthed it. The terrorists and their victims are but tokens to move in this war.

If we but look we shall see preemption in the Patriot of the Independence War. If we but look we shall see struggle against preemption in the Bill of Rights. Nonviolence wars against its birth. Always so.

Martin, you carried a portrait of Gandhi in your travels, placed high on the walls of make do command. You mutated nonviolence away from the fast, from self immolation beyond the comprehension of this land. But you kept his assumption of risk as self sacrifice in potential. Now nonviolence must mutate again, to the assumption of risk for self immolation among the anonymous. The form was in you and Gandhi; it happened so often, recorded only in memories now gone. But now it must happen without a directing personal assumption of risk. How can the contours of battle in this land achieve such end?

In this war recurs the question of all wars: why must the death of innocents pave the road to paradise always unreached? History cares no more for the individual than does speciation. I close this journal before I quit history, so later to come anew in ready sacrifice of self and unwilling others.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

5. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Gift beyond my purchase: a small heart, crafted of hard coal, heart’s end curving to one side as if moving away, stringed to be worn about the neck. Made by boys birthed of Columbian coal mines, 9, 10, 12 years old, who otherwise would be working those mines, spending a life not yet comprehended. The State educates in the morning, a terrible thing to do to a boy with nowhere to go; they make trinkets of energy too small for value in their afternoons.

I buy and wear underneath my robe. Coal polished glistening smooth, a crucifix to dangle and hold from another kind of murder. But sorrow has been etched: some boy, some boy who may turn mean, some boy who may know more of death than I, some boy has, after his perfect polishing of pure symbol, major note which calms but says no more; some boy, after his work is done, has scratched a line, slightly off vertical, disappearing into the heart rather than severing it. Some boy has left signature of the maker, perhaps against the rules of good market.

Hieroglyph, word, code–left alone in a conceptual world unvisited, severed from its creator, forgotten by its creator, an act of no value.

Then why these words, scars on paper, meant for none?


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

6. On the Court

during the Right to Bear Arms Cases

Suzuki flows from pen, scratches on the void, falling, falling until landing in text. Scrambling to feet, clambering up the scribbles, searching for origin, finding cessation, no mark, no further. Turning, seeing the pen moving distantly, stumbling forward to catch up, panting in climb, rolling down the arch of signifiers, finally exhausted, finding a place to huddle, cave of words. Peep out. The pen flows ahead; he is grateful, their will be more of him. He will explore later, when the pen is gone to sight, then the security of ever has been, no scratching on void but assured ground, the world firm in binding ink.

Charging out of his cave of words, he sees no creator, only terrain. Rushing forward, master of the scribble, he leaps from page to page, vast allusion to live in. He leaps from page to page, but cannot break the text. He leaps from page to page, but cannot vault to another book. Helpless, he hopes for something greater, not of ink, to take him beyond what he is. Something not of words, yet using them.

So he leaps and tumbles in his text, street performer hoping for notice, playing with most serious intent. He stands wrapped in words, words gratefully not his own, words hopefully no one’s own.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

7. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Christmas holidays, 2005, the Indonesian insurgency accepts a peace accord with the government
Tsunami has remade us there. Gone the network of desperation which made the insurgency. Gone the allocation of desperation, the insurgent’s silent means, both puppet and master. No more human cattle to squeeze for the false surplus of their blood. Wealth gone, all gone, the cattle are useless, their feed imported from the strange land of abstract empathy.

Violence is useless after the apocalypse. Oh, the violence of rape remains, but quelled by the largesse of gods. The true flesh we rip from one another, our social relations, already flaps in the wind, a tattered garment no longer covering our nakedness. Not the nakedness of sex; no, sex is a weave for garments to be. No, the nakedness of isolation, of helplessness, of realization of how little each of us do on our own. Our shredded flesh dances in the wind, each movement with its pain, and the carnivores go hungry for the first bite which feels so good, go hungry as they know too the flapping pain, cause of no man, which disorients and drives the saliva from our mouths.

Into this social sundering come the gods of kindness, miracle of human construction, which do more than feed us; they let us weave anew. We grow without the barrier we were to one another. Oh, the growth is small; but the power in despair lies in welcoming the importance of the small. Our carnivores yelp and snap at us but the pain of their flapping skin opens their mouths in a howl which will not close. We offer our hand, their flesh subsides onto bone, and they weave with us.

Only controlled despair makes an insurgency, leeching hope with the medical precision of doctors past. What comes quickly will destroy; what slinks nearer to your feet will be able to use you, gladly in tidings of resolve you follow it as it moves on. We have made the mistake of military efficiency in Iraq. Kind, we thought. But despair grows slowly with the unraveling of the prior order, the carnivore saviors its meal in its hidden den–and creates new predators with each bite. And we, with our kindly efficient military, grow controlled despair which feeds our enemy. We are no tsunami. We turn from that monstrosity, and in so doing the little monsters are born ever anew. Born in our own growing inner desperation; born in the exterior desperation our simple presence makes. A terrible realization: that incremental despair make us as our enemy. The carnivore needing its meal.

This is Vietnam. Not the logistics of jungle, but the pure inability to remove the despair of the enemy. For fighting is calculated to increase that despair, and in our moral maze we cannot increase it with essential speed. Stayed by the eyes of innocence, we see innocence turn slowly into despair. Our enemy does not die, and we find monsters among us. And we blame them for what they are, as we do to the insurgents. Of the cannibalism of controlled despair we will not ask. For perhaps it birthed us–and still does.

Oh, but tsunami makes despair in an instant, grows massively, without patches of survival nearby. Such patches, you see, are essential for controlled despair. No, tsunami leaves us all prey without a carnivore, stripping us of the controlled despair we call social stability, stripping us of our humanity. And into this vacuum of humanity kindness comes afar. This is why civilization is still here. This is the mystery of humanity; no species does this but us. This the marvel we must face, our homemade miracle which we so often avoid, but still endures. There have been other tsunamis–natural and human. And in their absence of controlled despair kindness comes. Think on that.

Oh, little carnivore with the hopeful teeth, do not despair in this kindness. Patience. See–the patches of kindness grow in the devastation, begin to encounter each other, and in greater density become the past. Little carnivore, we shall grow into what we once were. You shall feed again. We shall feed again.

And what of kindness? It jumps from tsunami to tsunami, taunting catch me if you can. Please, as I chase you, please be swifter, ever so. Please.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

8. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Shortly after publication of the Abu Ghraib abuse photos, 2004
There are bad apples in every bushel. Some turn bad because they’re placed in the bushel. We do not forego bushels or the eating of apples because of these hapless few. Nor do we ask them what’s it like to go bad. We should not be surprised at these photos; they are a side cost of our hunger, no more arbitrary than the successful battle.

Rights jurisprudence abhors, abjures this side cost. The abused prisoner, the petty torturer, fill the universe. Justice is forced to dismantle the process which created them. So doing, we risk our meal. So we create anew our meals, battling new side costs as they appear–or admit they are there.

Protectors mine, do not ask me to ignore the packing of apples; it is my duty to see where your refuse goes, as yours to build again from what I dismantle. We are enemies in essential alliance. Perhaps you can not see this, your sight always on victory next. Mine is blind to your travails, looking beyond to the consequence of victory. Not as exact a science as yours, so suspect. Yet you fear to do away with me entirely.

Justice is the ruthless art which dismantles all productivity; enterprise the miracle of perpetual renewal from this ruin of our better nature. Novelty becomes the world, reply to the ruthless morality of justice. Do not ask me to think like you, builders. I think this way because you are here. I think this way because I know, I know, your children will build anew.

This is what I take from these emblems of strangely useless torture: a call for the dismantling power of justice throughout the crevices we have made. But I am afraid, afraid in the face of my certainty to the contrary, that, if I succeed, you builders will not come again. Builders, do you ever fear I will abandon you as well?


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

9. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Shortly after the election of Hamas to the Palestinian Authority, 2006


the harm that anyone does.

We are here to be a forgiveness door

through which freedom

comes. I weep when I ask

that the door not be shut.

Rumi (1207-73)

They give us what we demand–and we are angry. The most vibrant, fair election the non-Israeli Middle East has seen, so fair that the victor is shocked in triumph, and we condemn the people manifest. We are being tested as much as Hamas. If we import democracy but condemn its result we will be condemned in turn–as slavemasters picking form to produce outcome. Which, of course, we have done, elsewhere, elsewhen.

Why are we shocked? Suicide bombing was as much against Fatah as Israel. Israel would respond by bombing a police station (if you do nothing you will not be); by suspending tax payments; by humiliating the Authority with yet more occupation. Hamas endured the assassination of two cohorts of leaders, a paraplegic wheelchair turned over for all the angry to see. And there are so many angry to see, a true measure of commonality across the divide. Still Hamas grew; still it tempered total commitment with discipline. Suicide is not the only way to serve.

Something has appeared in Palestine. It has employed our rules and won. It is friends with our avowed enemies. It shows us that suicide bombing is not a mad act; no, no different than the attack planned to boost public support at home. We have all been killing for gain impossible to comprehend by the victims. The suicide bomber lives in the corporate reality of nationalism–our favorite tool these days.

They have employed our rules and won. A terror for them as well as we. Now they must extent their network beyond Believers. They must find a new way to police. No longer the beating or assassination in quiet night for all to see. No longer turning away one without food, without medicine for knowing the wrong people, for being the wrong person. Now universal care must be feigned, a terrible sacrifice for any hand. They, a mutation in Islam, must mutate again. We should be in awe–before this too slips past us.

They cannot change if starved of resources. They will spiral into spite once again, and a nascent Palestinian civil war may elide into religious civil war. It is in the West’s power to further this experiment in the creativity of spite. We have already begun.

If we condemn all in Hamas we employ the same simple frame as the suicide bomber. If we condemn the Hamas physician we condemn our own physicians as well. We have destroyed innocents not to be counted; Hamas has not the luxury, indeed wants the innocents counted and magnified in replay by the enemy. We have committed acts of terror, as have they. We have defined these acts away, as have they. We have been enraged upon the killing of our humanitarians, as have they. We have made heroes of individuals who in the eyes of our enemy are monsters, as have they. The one thing we have that they lack is the ability to isolate the conflict safely in the news, an interesting topic over collegial lunch. This risks making us the greater monster.

Now Hamas, employing our words, our forms, offers a gift, a way out for both of us, knowingly or not. Aid them as we would Fatah–no, more than that. Recognize that the selective forgetting offered by their assumption of Authority may someday cleanse our own hands. Clasp those hands so like our own, hands merely using our own means in more desperate public gamble. Once again democracy offers hope–for us if we will see, for us. A wedge in the definitions all have made, giving all the social space to become something else. This war will not end through unilateral change; we must accept commonality with the monsters we see. Never has the link between social process and nonviolence been clearer. What we become so too will Hamas.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

10. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

During the Lebanon war, 2006
They come and are offered food, diminishing plenty, false abundance, little parcels of hope, of surety that humanity is not yet barbaric, surety to prod them forward in their travels, anywhere but here. The residents watch them leave, turn to see others coming, go to rummage for more food, send their children to announce more is needed, it’s harder to yell at children, innocent need in their eyes. Rummaging in their houses, fear propelling hands, searching eyes–what if we have no more? What will they do to themselves, to us? They stop, frozen by the sight of Koran, their Koran. Angry at Allah–why did He have to speak? Angry at Allah for collecting unending interest on this Book, on Belief, something He denies his yoked. Angry at Mohammad, unable to contain the burden, the touch which trembles the universe. Beyond scream, from his mouth came the lashing power, sinuous Absolute branding all it touches to this day modern. Blessed be the Prophet, peace be upon him, peace, no perch from which power bounds, peace to keep his mouth shut. Prophet, were there others before you who, sacrificing for the unending born yet to be, kept their mouths closed, let the Absolute touching within dissolve their world into insanity. Prophet, could it be that the insane of today are our greatest defenders, heroes untold, protecting us from the Absolute, keeping the Touch, isolating the Touch, in themselves? Prophet, were you the weak one, should we cry for you in common weakness as we throw our burdens on others?

Footsteps come, crushing nothing as all has been crushed, each step offbeat of the others, a wall of sound, drowning all else. Cars stop, honk, children jumping off, out, women slaved to their loves following, men selected to battle coming after that, wandering about, communing in plight, nothing left to fight over but themselves. Will their houses be there if they return? Will they be empty? What of the true world, that of obligation, of memory? Obligation which get’s us up, obligation which props others up, obligation which keeps all going–will it return with them?

The residents gather their parcels of hope, go outside to greet the wandering mass again, hoping eyes linger not overlong on their own homes.

In the name of Allah, the compassionate, the merciful, the power behind all powers.



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

11. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Otherwise undated
We cannot defeat you; so we prepare the ground for after your defeat.

[From Kendal Binmore, A cacophony of silence: the private journals of the Suzuki Court:

This the entire entry, isolate, free standing, as is its sentiment. Yet the plural pronoun is employed, a we to fill the emptiness on the page. Not a we of actuality. Not a we of nation, of creed, of color, even of family. No–an indeterminate we not of his choice, not of his presence. Preparation in the silence of writing which needs no audience to whip sense down paths of success. Defeat is local, of a place, of a time, but so is success. So prepare for an elsewhere, elsetime, a time for people unseen, perhaps for self unseen. The written page is not revenge; it is escape, an instance of the unavoidable diversity of life, a diversity which will spring from every conquest. Pluralism is no largesse. It is ceaselessly torn unwanted from the success of others. Suzuki is a realist: preparation will come whether he participates or not; selfishness, ever sinuous, ever insidious, places him in the silent fray.

The entry is undated, save as prior to appointment to the Court. An orphan, final sentence to how many entries unwritten? How many defeats, how many we’s never formed, how many grounds upon which futures might have stood? This compound sentence is the heart of Suzuki’s later judicial satori [see The ground of the Triumvirate, below {in Cacophony, ed.}], a dissolving of the bindings of success, removal to the canvass of later, quill offered to invisible hands, an act of sabotage against the present moment, against all the world moments, minute or vast, in which he was ineffectual. An act from a man who should not have survived, to be heard, but did, was. Quill offered to invisible hands, to an indefinite we, always indefinite, which never stuffs the present into enforced commonality where self protection comes through its negation. An indefiniteness, but no quietism: resolution comes, a we concresses, satori contouring the path thereto. Satori, the dissolution of self, so other selves may come. His jurisprudence a perpetual recovery of the indefinite at path’s end. This his final ground–quill, canvass, silence.]



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

12. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

A week after the hanging of Saddam Hussein

Let’s go see the atrociter, daddy–I hear he’s really funny.

More brutal than hanging, than the unending fall always so disappointing to its audience, disappointment demanding another until the thrill comes, but it never does, our bright-crazed eyes always wondering why there is no more. Punishment is for us, the withdrawn spectator, searching for a reality to give the distant horror its due. Revenge a spectator sport, a snuff film, where oblivion propels our stories forward into forever where someone else always dies, not us. Saddam, noose around neck, staring down the unending distance so absurdly short. It’s you, not us, reduced to two-bit role, soon offstage, your real purpose that, to mark us still here through your orderly exit.

Ah, Saddam, you know better than we: there is no exit, the creed of faith on your lips for your eternity. There is no exit for any of us. This is why we stare wild eyed at the hanging corpse–did he realize finality, did he find a way off this stage called consciousness? Is he the victor, our hero, finally breaking the necessity which makes brutality inanely ubiquitous? Somehow we know he too has failed, trapped in the necessity he played so adroitly so long, now someone else’s glory, a few syllables in the resume of some handful of terror-trapped souls. You’ve failed us, Saddam. Bring on the next champion, give us the next trial, weave us the next noose; we will watch until someone finds a way to break existence.

Let’s go see the atrociter, daddy–I hear he’s really funny.

Our punishments could be so much more. Saddam buried in his cell, cell underground, ceiling transparent, sunlight unrelenting on his face, children bouncing on his clear roof, laughing with the brutality of innocence, a laughter dear to adults playing games with one another, enjoying the frailty of others; yet in that wonderful feeling of superiority we cannot reach the brutal innocence reserved for childhood, a childhood we see but never seem to have had. Saddam’s eyes bulge as the children bounce-bounce over him, solemn adults in background, deliciously glad they are not him. No words to make you important, Saddam. No theatrics in court to make moments worthwhile. No fictitious Presidency to defend. No nation. Just children overhead, bounce-bounce, pointing and laughing, more fun than a roller-coaster, nowhere to hide to let the tears come, to be alone, the only life beyond new hurt. Bounce-bounce these lives come, somersaulting over you, and you know that for all their callous enjoyment they will forget you on the morrow, this true superiority.

Saddam, would you starve yourself again, late follower of Gandhi’s fast? Would you exhaust yourself in sobs so sleep will come? Would you hide under the covers until the world changes? It never will. They always come, bounce-bounce, so much fun. And you have so many years left. Hope for the next conviction, for a martyr to come and assume this torture, children and parents rushing to the newest exhibit, leaving you alone in the ineffectiveness which ultimately clothes all. Your salvation lies in fresh atrocity, this a solace, for you know it will come. Then you can age in the oblivion which is the birthright of simple endurance.

Our punishments could be so much more. Perhaps our fascination with execution is hidden grace, keeping our true potential at bay. Mercy is not for the criminal, but his master.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

13. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

After any excursion by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the Middle East, 2004-08

Success, Condi, success! We have made the world as us. We took battle to the monster’s layer; now Sunni explodes in Shia’s hope, and Shia marches through another’s homeland. We bombed until nothing could walk in the quake; now Israeli and Sunni do the same with means appropriate to their stations. We grew strong in the solidarity of enemy; now Sunni and Shia dress their hate in words a thousand years old. Everywhere everyone knows what is true; and where truth is clear there can be no quarter. Our resolve feeds off the world, a fire never glancing back to carcasses consumed.

How our converts have surpassed us, entertainment for our imperial comfort, a strange imperium of petty debt and willed blindness to stay afloat. Thus we enjoy the theaters we have created: they like us, but children still, unsophisticated, too direct, unable to kill without blood, lacking weapons which level people while preserving homes for later occupancy. Wayward children who sweat so much we can hardly stand the smell, best savored through video.

Fear Condi, fear. These converts have outperformed our own childhood; what prowess they when mature? Monsters everywhere, in their layers. Take the battle there, this the recipe for civilization. Monsters everywhere, in their layers–including us.

[Editorial note: Kendal Q. Binmore’s (A cacophony of silence: the private journals of the Suzuki Court) working papers contain a copy of this entry with a hand transcribed quote:

Civilization battles itself to expunge the tools which gave it birth. This the genesis of Justice, inherently nonviolent, in perpetual rebellion against its creator’s past. This rebellion births equal protection, is the quickening behind equity, advances the common law. Justice knows no allegiance beyond itself, so is potential terror to all instanced existence; it is birthless, yet would control the born. In my old age I have come to understand why the fertile fear the birthless. Principle, once born, becomes birthless, the most ruthless form of marketing our species has yet devised. As its spokesman, you should hate, fear me; yet here you sit, transfixed by the allure of use. Any one of you come to use any one of me.

Benjamin Suzuki

Speech before the Illinois Lincoln Society

(in retirement)]



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

14. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

After an abortive attempt by several hundred members of a Shia apocalyptic group to “take” Najaf, possibly to assassinate or capture Grand Ayatollah Sistani, 2007

Sistani, your people die. Yours, possessory, a yours shared with yours to bind all to a will which has no face. “We,” price of existence, always embedded in a somewhere, life ever a false promise of individual, promise ever destroyed by those already destroyed. You would keep your people one, one to recovery history, to ascend beyond other we’s; so embrace the violence of more than slum, another outreach of history, your history, history carefully preserved in reclusion, knowledge hated for its binding called liberation. They chant your name knowing nothing of what you write, Pen the work of ancient days too tired to witness failed life beyond the walls of piety stretched skyward in hope of touching God. They chant your name and call that piety; you let them, no closer will squalor and the floods of hate let them come. For history you give none up; you make their violence your own, through silence.

So they bring your violence home, martyr in waiting for history to make. Their violence will be yours; there is no escape. They will die for the history which birthed them; there is no escape. The only question, ever the only question, is who pulls the trigger. You would not kill your own; your silence kills them nonetheless. You will not, can not, escape murdering your own. No matter your act, no matter your resolve, your finger drifts to the trigger and pulls.

Unknowingly, you stand intimately near nonviolence, nonviolence not pacifism but a channeling of violence. Sistani, confront your own, there always the greatest hatred, greatest because shared with love; confront your history, for violence will come to you in any case. Be cliff upon which the flood breaks, let flood pool at your feet to rise and drown, flood no longer what it was from absorbing you. Grasp the suicide bomber in your mind and make of him something he would despise. Let no one monopolize sacrifice; this the only bridge to all the binding we’s. Face the violence which made you. History arrives only with our death. Come, old man, remake your maker as you depart.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

15. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

After Hamas militants throw a rival Fatah man off a high rise roof in Gaza, June, 2007

Throw me into the intangible arms of your God. Release me from all ground so I may know the divine necessity of submission. Show me the power of your God so I may become that power manifest for all to behold and quake. Set me free, falling free, the only freedom, freedom from history, from my people, from my enemies, from my birth. I ride the air beyond harm, for once arms flaying without account, my world’s focus ever sharper until released. This failing flight becomes Paradise unplanned. No more heights of understanding built on words so steeled as to thrust lives ever upward in rivalry which becomes vacuous hope. Your God releases me from all that; I mourn only those who will come to cleanse my burial, my scattered dregs links in the chains of history, binding them as I was bound until this incalculable, untransmittable, freely falling moment.

Perhaps, when done, the all important face which says what we are shall be divinely positioned to look up at the height whence it came, grateful to the West which propelled it upwards from squaller so to later fall into release. Let me look up, up where God is said to be, pointing the way for you.



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

16. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Hamas consolidates control of Gaza, June, 2007

Allāhu Akbar–God is Great. Shouted on rooftops, in cubby offices of Authority decorated with put-it-together-yourself furniture, on vacant streets cleansed with fear and triumph; and whispered in minds of the prudently paralyzed silent. Allāhu Akbar–we, his creative act, roil from the dark places of genesis to drown the hierarchy of deprivation, of heresy which coos humiliation is true submission to Allah. God is Great, the nation tainted with aggrandizement, betrayal, distrust, desperation, these become our currencies of faith.

God is Great–I should know, this pen should know, for we are God their creator. We made, make them, not even a you, just a them, and now they rise to praise our magnificent gift. Smell their fetid difference, avoid their glazing eyes, know now what the Son of God incarnate endured. They come to supplicate in the manner we have taught, with guns leveled in the cold control granted by too many deaths experienced, too many sand castles trampled by bodies less emaciated than theirs. Look at these women, their children, innocent, innocent for we must find innocence somewhere; look at these who placed in the cycle of procreation wish only to honor their ancient duty; look at their eyes in horrid puzzlement, eyes asking why this abominable experiment here, now. Our divine mouths open in roaring laughter–everywhere only is here, now. Is not all creation abomination for the ancient cycle aloft in perfect repetition? We, your God called West, we decree you children of creation. Read your Book; it has always been so.

They come supplicant with the bullet, that smallest, earliest land mine; they come in abstract love of God and people; they come in concrete rage of pain and loss. Having seized Authority they place it before us, demanding righteous reward.

Let’s give it to them. Thou art made God. The they which is them opens its many mouths, some feeding, some shouting, some readying a kiss, some suckling, some in thought, others preparing for other things; it opens its mouths and convulses in godhead bestowed, so many mouths twisting in so many ways, along with the occasional smile. To create is good comes howling, wailing, whispering from the consuming caverns which also shape breath into reality coerced–well, coerced more or less.

Yes, child of God now become God, to create is more compelling than you will ever comprehend–which is why we, God, all the we’s, are ever present. But know that you will not create yourselves. Procreation is not creation–and there’s a battle. Be prepared to be astonished, mover of worlds.

Do they hear? Do we?



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

17. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Palestinian President Abbas condemns Hamas as a terrorist conspiracy, June, 2007

A boy, just shy of manhood’s roaring approach, crouches, hands over ears, frowning at his tall neighbor, pot bellied man pointing rifle afar, boy frowning at his future, at what hope offers he become. Surround this pot bellied future are those in full gale of manhood, pointing distantly to inform aim, doing their bit for nation, indentures themselves toward pot-bellieddom. Abbas, President without portfolio, millionaire who knows when to concede, trembling at his planned assassination, has ordered these on the street to protect the true State. Shoulder a rifle for a day or week, then let the black masked hormones beyond compare, one of evolution’s endless masterpieces, do the unwanted work. Black mask shooting black mask, anonymity the quintessence of survival, survival another’s loss, anonymity which is the quintessence of evolution. Pot bellied has something to say to these surround, pot belly badge of well fed survival, still here.

Tremble Abbas, tremble come late to the uncalculating certainty which is your enemy, tremble at the drunk weapons, drunk on endorphins of petty survival in a desolated world, our deep heritage, these lives beneath your purchase, all you have to unleash. Your home in Kuwait beckons; but you will go not. America supports you, that name greater than its jurisdiction, a name absorbing all into its presence. Israel has become your true partner in peace, many of your parliament conveniently in its jails. Money from the United States and European Union still flows into your private account, yours and select others. Only traitors would call this extra-governmental. You tremble at this frozen civil war, no more a puppet than any other in history’s saddle. No more a puppet than any other conspiracy without hands, conspiracies the great work of man, man face always unseen but always, or please always, there, please always so there be something to fight against, something to call victory. Let us have a clean solid war, an enenmy as us save reversed in value–this we understand, its making the essential tool of war. (Gandhi nods, the Gandhi of movies, what other could I know, Gandhi nods, “This is why I would not give them an enemy. I took away the ability to war. Made them as helpless as I.”)

Now, nonpuppet, America and Israel come, your Western pals, come to tell a secret, to show their good faith: In politics there are no errors–only new challenges in righteousness. Abbas, pal, partner, friend, fine pot bellied Abbas, our mistake not there, mistake unmade, come with us to greater righteousness.



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

18. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

20 headless corpses, some with heads adjacent, found in a rubbish heap Bagdad, June, 2007

when I saw him die,

my guts were on fire:

not that I pitied him,

just that it might be my turn next

Wang Fan-chih

(8th Century ce,

fictitious personage used

when teaching children)

Heads do not roll. They wobble, precariously, aimlessly, shortly, the knife contours of face purchasing a final, elusive stillness on common ground. The price of purchase one eye up, knife nose allowing only partial sight of the final stillness, of ground supporting our quick jumps over the glacial movement of earth. The other must look sideways, at the movement it once was, final view a superposition of stillness and life, this the mix of all faith, brevity desperate for a way out, a way beyond, what it is. Eyes glassed, become windows to eternity, the quicksilver of being gone, whatever a person is, this it is not. Glassed eyes, a piece of eternity if but briefly before us, its message terrifyingly clear: eternity has nothing to do with us, does not recognize us, knows not that we are here, for in eternity there is no here.

The sword descends, the world pierced briefly, eternity rolling before us, awkward, embarrassed, out of proper place because in a place. Thus a warrior of God, sword in hand, finds his disappointing future. Picking up eternity, he places it by its catapult body, reverently, coming to see, he can still see, coming to see that it is not eternity he craves but its portal, the descending certainty of exit, the stilling of the foreign, of that which is not him.

He decapitates not a man, but a network; not a body, but a mind; focusing not on the life draining before him, but the ever distant other which threatens to replenish that life. At the moment of execution the victim becomes irrelevant. Sword dangling from limp hand, he has missed his enemy yet again. You love life, we love death. But life is ever beyond us, life cannot be decapitated, neither enemy nor ally, it becomes both, sinuously moving about and through our petty importances, closer to eternity than a man holding a vessel of glassed eyes. It is not eternity you want, but its grasp. For all your prostrations, you fear eternity, hoping obsequiousness will force it to conform to what you are, the best of you bruised, lumped foreheads from this perpetual encounter with the unseeing, this the message of those glazed eyes which are hungered portal–there is nothing to greet you on the other side.

Swordsman, do not despair. You have allies. Life against life is the portal you seek. Network against network, hope against hope, rage against rage, we your partners in civilization’s quest to find God. We love life? Not when we come to you. We shower death liberally for your enjoyment, so many brief portals toward eternity. A little Shock and Awe, we say. Swordsman, do you give thanks in the dark that we return to the Way, blazed path, your path, we running to find you?



From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

19. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

Palestinian President Abbas sacks his defunct head of internal security in Gaza; Israel promises to release 250 Fatah prisoners, June, 2007

There is always a surplus. No mater the desolation, some someones’ muscles move, forcing faces into dirt to gag on their own endurance. Always strength in a nearby someone’s muscles if not in our own. Always a surplus to gather, tiny fruits of life, sprouts soon to die alone, the gathering an augmenting, the ineffectual transmuted into supremacy. Life climbing atop life to make a horizon, a direction, a vista from which to view the struggle below.

We starve them yet they do not die. Oh, some die, but death is not the snuffing we expect. Our death is not theirs. Gaza, unsurpassed in population density; Gaza, rival of Bangladesh in infant mortality; Gaza, an economy as much barter as cash. Gaza, traders in loss too fine to see. Into this Fatah places plumped cashed security and marvel when they flee networks of controlled desperation, flee men honed on disposal of the next morsel, the next inadequate drug, flee men who allocate the common sacrifice of death among themselves, even vying for its grasp. We shun them and find they have made the turned back a tool of survival, one we feign foreign to our nature. Oh, we turn our backs in our own land, but promise the fall shall be–acceptable. Yet in Gaza we hope, know otherwise, turning to make death unseen.

We supply humanitarian aid to quash rumors of what we do; and so indeed mouths feed, blooming a barter economy where the escape of cash becomes increasingly mythic. All those muscles with nothing to do save wait for the next handout. There are never enough morsels; and surplus labor will ever vie among itselves to create relevance. There is always a surplus. But nature abhors a surplus. This the gradient of life.

They do not listen. Again and again, they will not listen. We tell them the way of success, yet they still prefer the starving handout to strengthen themselves, shunned using their fate to climb ever higher in sacrifice, ever higher toward a God always needing something from Its creation. The way is the way, same way, for us, for them. So in mute collaboration we fatten Fatah more. And thereby feed what has become our essential enemy, enemy telling us what to do as we tell them. Hamas in Gaza: from religious social opposition to terrorist to victorious political party to victorious militia. And we feed them anew.


From the Journal of Benjamin Suzuki

20. On the Oregon Appellate Court

before nomination as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court

At home, Salem, Oregon

After any declaration of regret over the death of civilians in the Islamic Rebellion, Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Somalia, Gaza, the West Bank

Innocence rebels against its creator. Innocence created because, by those lacking it, lacked forever, self, struggle defined by that lack, no memory of a pure time, an unawares time, save for uneasy feeling that innocence was snuffed, false taking, by those lacking it, snuffed as punishment for existing, for coming onto stage innocent, the marvelous thrill of watching the snuffing, of others revealing themselves just as us. Make a nest of innocence–because you harm, because I harm. Act to preserve this innocence foreign; do all to preserve this innocence foreign. Stumbling through betrayal and willed blindness, through the beautiful silence of imposed maze, we will make something pure despite ourselves. Innocence, grace to acquiesce; innocence, irrefutable excuse, ultimate weapon, drawn line of no return. The excuse of another makes its own excuse, the innocence we make dared garment.

They come to trample our innocence; this we understand, this the way of all life. But, abomination, they wrap themselves in the innocence of others, casualty making innocence, innocence not of their making, abomination, but of our own hand, a raped collaboration. We make the innocence upon which they thrive. So is war, innocence everywhere, destroyed everywhere, the same act, the same being. Improper creation! Improper, yet essential tool of civilization, of omnivore teeth hermetically sealed, beyond all other species. There has never been an omnivore such as us. They wrap themselves in the innocence of others, innocence of our making but not of us, and we rage at what they do, at what they make us do, rage born of uneasy thought that so too once were we.

Innocence rebels against its creator, damns its creator, moves quickly to become something else. This we know, they too are we, Homo sapiens sapiens ever discovering itself. With each conflict we discover ourselves anew. Welcome, suicide bomber; welcome NATO strategist; welcome, child of Allah; welcome, patriot with the terror of courage; welcome, contractor in dream of currency; welcome all to the perpetual rediscovery of ancient strategy, engine of civilization, engine of change; welcome to the material understanding that innocence belongs to no one, ultimate altruism, owned by none, possessed by none, owing no allegiance, beyond all allegiance. Welcome to humanity beyond all human, our final hope, our monster, hope never what we are, nor what we want to be, but something beyond the conceivable, innocence transcending any boundary we make. Welcome to the terrible prospect that we need not be what we are. Welcome to innocence, slayer of gods, fratricide, so foreign to be irreplaceable, our godhead in this, that we willingly, desperately, invitingly, birth our future assassin. They wrap themselves in this innocence of No One, thinking they control, own, better than we.

Innocence rebels against its creator, each god’s escape from what it is.



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