Monday, October 29, 2007


From the Archives (August 2005)

by Jude Todd

Abysmal: extremely, hopelessly bad; of or pertaining to an abyss.

Abyss: hell; Hades; realm of the god Pluto, who opened a gaping maw in the Earth to trap and consume Persephone. Some say that the Iraq war is an abyss from which Americans cannot emerge. (See americium; engulf; plutocracy; plutonium.)

Americium: a man-made transuranic element produced by the high-energy helium bombardment of uranium and plutonium. Americium is found in weapons that employ depleted uranium (DU); ingesting the tiniest particle of americium can cause cancer (see consumption) and genetic defects. (See absysmal; Pluto.)

Consume: to eat; to use up; to devour. From the Latin sumere, “to take.” The “con” in “consume” is not derived from Latin con/com for “together,” in which case it might mean communion, as in eating together, i.e., sharing; rather, this “con” means “altogether,” or “wholly,” so to consume is to take wholly, i.e. to engulf.

Consumer: one who consumes; an organism that feeds on others. 20 percent of the world’s wealthiest humans consume 86 percent of its resources. U.S. Americans are particularly adept consumers; we currently engulf 30 percent of the Earth’s natural resources. We also produce more waste per capita than any other country. (See greed.)

Consumer goods: objects produced to satisfy human desires, often without regard for the good of either human or non-human others. (See greed.)

Consumption: the act of consuming. An older use of “consumption” referred to tuberculosis and to a progressive wasting of the body. Contemporary consumption results in the wasting of the Earth’s body and of the body politic of all nations. Wars waged to protect the U.S. consumptive lifestyle waste life. (See DU; greed; Gulf War(s).)

DU: depleted uranium, an extremely dense radioactive waste product of nuclear reactors, used in cluster bombs and other weapons in both Gulf Wars. DU is composed of uranium-238, neptunium, plutonium, and americium, all rolled into a hyper-dense b all of hell that burns on contact and causes cancer, neurological diseases, and genetic defects. In the first Gulf War, over 320 tons of DU were pounded into the Iraqi earth. The amount of DU used in Gulf War II is unknown. Because DU continues to kill long after its initial use, the United Nations considers DU a “weapon of indiscriminate use” and, therefore, a violation of the Geneva Conventions. (See abysmal.)

Engulf: to consume; to swallow up. (See abyss; greed; gulf.)

Greed: excessive desire for wealth. In many cultures, greed is understood to cause destruction, so their teachings guard against it. Even before the U.S. culture consumed this land, Pueblo Indians told stories of times when greed destroyed the world. (See abysmal.) In U.S. culture, however, greed is celebrated, and during a crisis it is especially prized. After the 9/11 attack, U.S. Americans were urged to fight that evil by buying more goods. (See americium; Gulf War(s).)

Gulf; a portion of sea enclosed in land; a deep hollow; an abyss. (See Pluto.)

Gulf War(s): wars started by George Bushes to preserve the consumptive lifestyle of the richest U.S. Americans. (See abyss; americium; DU; engulf; greed; plutocracy.)

Pluto: the Greek god who caused Persephone to be engulfed by an abyss in the Earth. Pluto imprisoned Persephone in Hades and consumed her, i.e., he raped her. The Earth shared Persephone’s shock, terror, and grief; grains refused to grow and all life wasted away. Pluto tricked Persephone into eating a tiny particle, a pomegranate seed, so that she would spend half her life in hell. (See abysmal; plutocracy; plutonium.)

Plutocracy: government by the wealthy, i.e., those who own most of the goods, those most adept at consumption. (See greed.)

Plutonium: a man-made transuranic element used to make DU. Its half-life of 24,000 years ensures that plutonium will be highly toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. Engulfing even a tiny partcle of plutonium can cause cancer/wasting. (see abysmal; americium; consumption; Pluto.)

Waste: By-product of consumption. (See abysmal.)

—from shock and awe: war on words, ed. By Bregje van Eekelen, Jennifer González, Bettina Stötzer, and Anna Tsing. Feminisms and Global War Project of the Institute for Advanced Feminist Research (New Pacific Press: Santa Cruz, 2004).

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