Taking on THE MAN

Long Island, New Yorker Adam Engel has written many irreverent, cutting essays that tackle many topics. Engler has examined, in his inimical way, patriotism, religion, militarism, colonialism, Zionism, capitalism, marijuana, human nature, etc. Now, a collection of Engel’s essays has come out in a book, I Hope My Corpse Gives You the Plague.

His articles catch attention with snappy, quirky titles like, “I, Clitoris,” “A Good Man Is Hard to Misfit,” and “Lizard Brain on Line for the log Flume.”

Even his bios keep readers riveted to the end, as he frequently changes it while offering a trenchant observation.

In Engel style, I Hope My Corpse Gives You the Plague comes with a conspicuous title and a provocatively erotic cover. I won’t pretend to grasp the symbolism of the cover.

I had read many of Engel’s essays before, but a second read made a much deeper impression than the first time (the previous impression also being favorable of course, which is why I review the book).

I Hope My Corpse Gives You the Plague
By Adam Engel
Publisher: Oliver Arts and Open Press, New York, 2010
Paperback: 267 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9819891-9-8

Engel has a refreshing and a daring wit.

Although progressivist, his mind is not beholden to the dichotomous thinking of Left and Right. For instance, in his essay “Damned Right to Bear Arms,” he writes, “Self defense is the right of all human beings.” It seems a no-brainer, but it is one topic that many progressives can not bend their minds around, as so many adamantly oppose gun ownership. As Engel points out, it is the state (or in his words, “THE MAN”) that is the major arms bearer and violent user of arms.

“I’ll be damned if I’m going to ask THE MAN, whose pursuing death and destruction at home and abroad with a multi-trillion dollar Military/Police apparatus for permission to defend myself against … THE MAN,” argues Engel.

Of American democracy, he writes, “The country IS and always has been a democracy for Our Masters—rich, propertied, white men.” A simple truism, and yet so many people discuss democracy as if it exists or ever did exist. When talking about extant political systems, pseudo- should at the very least be prefixed to the word democracy.

In “Domicide,” Engel asks, “Where did the UN get the authority to give any land to anyone without consulting the people who lived there?” Of course he is referring to the migrant Jews’s dispossession of indigenous Palestinians, a genocidal act that was entrenched by UN dictate, undermining its own charter’s declared respect for self-determination.

In “Duel Use of Uncle Sam Weird Society,” he takes on “the five-trillion dollar death machine” by himself. However, all that is really needed, says Engel is “Ten million MATURE HUMANS … to just sit down and do nothing.”

So why is he alone? In the essay, “Enough Is Too Much,” Engel mentions “the dead sheep shuffle,” a metaphor for people’s unwillingness to confront the killing machine on so many fronts.

Who are Americans? In “Support Our Robots,” the New Yorker asks, “What kind of monsters fire on retreating troops AND fleeing civilians?” Engel wryly suggests imagining that “… Iraqis are actually human beings.”

Of American warring, there is no knee-jerk support for killers by Engel. He states, “It’s pure cowardice, killing without having to put troops in harm’s way.”

“But just as we pay the airlines for the privilege of cattle-hood, we pay THE MAN to make life miserable all over the world. Our only consolation is that we’re “free.” That is, it’s not as bad as in other places THE MAN has devastated.”

He loathes the corporate media, but Engel wonders whether readers do not have responsibility for what they choose to read. In “The Worst Writers in the World, or the Worst Readers,” he notes a turd of an article by New York Times writer David Brooks who “perpetuate[s] the fiction that ‘the War in Iraq’ is anything but an unprovoked slaughter and absolute betrayal of ‘our’ troops.” He ends the piece by asking whether “journalists” like Brooks should be thanked “for sparing us the humiliation of our own desuetude.”

Engel doesn’t sternly cite facts and formulate rigorous logic; he crafts words that paint a vivid picture and evoke emotion. His evocative prose illustrates his attention to words and language. Although irreverent in style, he is also respectful. “…I believe the left, in order to create a new world, must toss the racism, sexism, egotism, etc., that is inherent in ‘regular’ language…,” posits Engel.

One can well understand the five trillion dollar fighting machine from Engel’s choice of t-shirts. One was emblazoned with the bathetic slogan “Homeland Security … Fighting Terrorism Since 1492” and a large photo of Goyaa?é (Geronimo) and friends. After all, it was the genocide on Turtle Island that provided a new base for launching violence on the rest of the world.

Engel captures THE MAN’s greed and bloodlust in I Hope My Corpse Gives You the Plague – a thought-provoking collection of essays. Read them and weep.

Kim Petersen is an independent writer. He can be emailed at: kimohp at gmail.com. Read other articles by Kim.

14 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 7:40am #

    Btw! I am writing a book and as soon as finnish it, i’l burn it. I am giving my book the name: Keep on lamenting and our masters wld hear our cries–and whole heaven wld break loose.
    So what is Engel saying that hadn’t been seen with a naked eye let alone two?
    He, too, avoids [in this piece] to posit a single cause let alone solution for what is happening to us and ‘aliens’.
    Let’s please hear from writers who r doing smthing to change things for better. Or report what others might be proposing or doing to stop the mafia; comprising, say, 30mn americans; tho, selves layered!

    I am not saying that describing events is useless. Perhaps that cld inspire people to actually DO SMTHING! tnx

  2. Gary S. Corseri said on November 1st, 2010 at 8:30am #

    Thanks for the review, Kim. I’ve known Engel for a few years, and I agree with you that his work merits greater attention. Honest witnessing is always useful and an acerbic wit can help maintain the inner gyroscopes of sensibility and humane values.

    As for the comments above… Is the commentator saying he is going to “finnish” his book–i.e., he is writing a book about Finland? Is he then threatening us with burning his magnum opus unless we “DO SMTHING”? (Surely–or is that “surly”?–a greater crime against the arts and humanity has not been envisioned since the burning of the library at Alexandria
    back in the 4th Century! Let us all quickly DO SMTHING! SMOBODY, PLZ DO SMTHING!

    It is evident that the Comments sections at DV are in serious need of vetting and editing!

  3. Angie Tibbs said on November 1st, 2010 at 10:23am #

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  4. teafoe2 said on November 1st, 2010 at 10:34am #

    I wonder if Engel still considers mention of the Sassoon family’s dope peddling, incitement of the Opium War, close relations with the British Royal Family, intermarriage with the Rothschilds, and mass “aliyeh” upon passage of UN Resolution 181 to be evidence of anti-Semitism?

  5. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 12:15pm #

    I do realize that the label “lament” does not fit well for what ? all posters and contributors say.
    But i have also said that they describe events [in]accurately; however, alas, sans causes for events or advice what can be done to emend or delete undesirable situations.
    I do no think i have ever labeled anyone with dysphemistic labels. But i also avoid euphemistic labels for people.

    I do not think that that anyone had been labeled as much as i have been on DV as much as i have been.
    But i view as a success for us egalitarians [socialist-communist] when all ‘jews’, muslims, and 90% of commenters callnames me and my writings !
    I am proud that they also criticize my writing style.
    I write mostly for miners, fishers, housepeople, homeless. And judging by number of people and pluses we get on ICH and other sites, we r doing just fine.

    As for staying on topic, to me, that’s a nono. I say stay on topics and not on one topic or within arbitrarilly determined limits by many writers who r out to deceives us by simply making such demands.

    It is an entirely different issue if owners of sites and contributors demand we obey them and kind of kissass.
    The owners can ban me. And i have been banned fro j’lem post and haaretz.

  6. Don Hawkins said on November 1st, 2010 at 12:41pm #

    To be more serious sort of many of us who do still have a mind and don’t find comfort in listening to pure 100$ illusion we see what’s coming. Tom Burghardt put’s it well yes they are getting ready and not to far away the you know what is going to hit the fan. What Adam Engel thinks what he writes is seen by many and the push is on. Fox New’s here in the States is headquarters but they all do it the media in one way or another. There greatest fear is intelligent’s, knowledge not so much from the people we see on the media but the faceless voice behind those people. So far there is no fight no contest and the plan is not to do the same thing over no no no. I believe it to be true a few castles in a sea of slums although those castles will take on a new shape. 10 then 20 years there will be change we can believe in alright. Yes there are many who embraced the system and see this coming but hard for them to break the chains. I’ll say it again nice cup of coffee game of checkers?

  7. Kim Petersen said on November 1st, 2010 at 2:14pm #

    Not a single cause or solution Bozh!? Perhaps a closer read is in order.
    What then are:

    * extolling people’s right to self-defense, even against the state
    * pointing out who is behind the classist structure of society
    * exposing troop cowardice
    * exposing UN hypocrisy
    * or “Ten million MATURE HUMANS … to just sit down and do nothing.”

  8. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 3:06pm #

    To me, what u said represents what is going on. And it is useful to tell them that. U’r merely describing events; accurately, tho.

    I am amazed that people do not distinguish between house flaming and who and what caused the flames.
    Or that one observes poverty or ‘ignorance’ and not and does not perceive that these r waged; waging, say, ignorance, being caused.

    And we can at least postulate the FIRST CAUSE for all ills that we now suffer.
    The first cause can be elicited from facts: serfdom, slavery, god-kings, priestly rule; later priestly-noble class rule.

    So, the first cause had been and still is the division of people into a serving class and master class.
    And there may be only one or two solutions: setting up a political party. No amount of talk will ever change the master- self relationship.

    So, my proposal is to establish a second party in US and let the party members educate people; includes seeing how it is done to them.

    I confidently repeat that almost no one proffers causes nor solutions. Engel may be sincere! But he’s not saying anything i didn’t say over the last 30 yrs.

    But one can always go to swtzerland. It hadn’t waged a war in ab. 700 yrs. And the cause[s] for that is caused.
    Even shit doesn’t just happen; it to is caused. tnx

  9. Kim Petersen said on November 1st, 2010 at 3:37pm #

    With all due respect, you assert falsely.
    You asked for a cause. Engel said that rich, White men are the cause.
    You asked for a solution; Engel said for people to withdraw their labor.
    You say Engel and the article merely describe what is going on. Where then do you see 10 million people sitting in the street?
    As for your solutions, they are nothing new, have been tried, and are still being tried.
    Whereas something along the lines of what Engel (and what I have proposed elsewhere) has also been tried and has been successful.

  10. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 6:55pm #

    Actually, it had been sumerians and egyptians who first divided the people into lesser-valued and more-valued people. They were no whites. And i think that also uncle tom or pedro are causative factors for iniquities.

    As for, my solutions, look at switzerland As far as looking at US, 99% of americans just voted for one party. Causes for that is initial cause.
    Of course, symptoms act as causes as well.
    Engel also does not mention religions as causes even tho it had been god kings and priests who first made out of free people slaves or serfs!

    Kim, Engel is brave, but at home. Fact is that ?every soldier fears battles. And soldiers commit crimes. But unlike him, i think soldiers are innocent.
    Ok if most are criminal, the 3omn rabid americans are as much criminal; while a few thousands or even 1 mn are as criminal as mussolini.

    It is actually plutocratic misteachings, now 8k yrs old, that cause ‘ignorance’ in india, pak.’n, or russia.
    Blaming whites solely and avoiding to say how egzactly they get away with their crimes is not elucidating.

    As for how i see ten k people on street, i still don’t understand what he meant by it. I let it go because it was not descriptive, but appears as metaphor or whatever.
    And i was only dwelling on his descriptions and not conclusions, wishes, etc.
    And not all. As for conclusions, the r nether true nor false; so let them go.
    As for extolling the right to self defensive, iv gone even further: one is morally and legally obligated to defend self and one’s land. However, neither his nor my
    statement belongs on descriptive level but on the level of conclusions, promises, wishes.
    But how is one gonna defend self in US? And against cia, fbi, police, army, spies, and about at least 30 mn rabid americans?

    Second viable party never existed in US. But if it ever wld or wld be left unmolested, i am sure it wld have a positive effect.

  11. bozh said on November 1st, 2010 at 7:25pm #

    It is sad that so many or ?all contributors only say what they r against and not what they r for.
    ?All approve of the constitution. And omit to say that nothing ever happens in US or by US abroad unless it is commanded by the constitution! tnx

  12. mary said on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:59am #

    I see that the plumbers haven’t been able to turn off the tap yet!

  13. Don Hawkins said on November 2nd, 2010 at 12:39pm #

    I see you it has started already the man the men the women the greatest minds in human history here in the greatest nation are Earth are so clever. After this election it will be made to seem like working together tax cut’s on the rich ok we move it forward a few years but cap and trade a joke on the human race let’s go for it and make Goldman Sach’s and our dear wonderful beautiful people on Wall Street what they want the most money let’s tone down the talk as we love you very very much. I’ll bet even Fox New’s will play the game the call’s have gone out a kinder gentler channel where reason and great knowledge is our new motto. We work for you and fair and balanced the truth matters. Yes they are going to work together now a little something they all have been doing all along with the help of that faceless voice.

  14. bozh said on November 2nd, 2010 at 1:01pm #

    u just reminded me that our greatest minds r also– or we may call-deem them–
    our greatest servants [yes, i lied ab. us being that], most honest-patriotic-chaste-peaceable-people loving people on Earth and since even before leaving diapers.

    And don’t the wars they wage to keep us safe and bound; oops, i meant to say sound, prove that? I never even left mine–i never wore them! tnx