it was a utopian era in some ways. in part it's what happens when you don't police racial borders in art; the playlist (which i really think rocks) is about a third white a third black a third latino and all hybrid.
well, it's true, i have long held that, qua ack-toor, kevin spacey sucks. but yo he sucks indeed. his statement, also coming out as gay, seems almost designed as a devastating self-indictment. the first thing i want to say is that kevin spacey should have been out long ago. i don't believe in outing people, but i think that dividing the public and private self like that is, at this point, itself reprehensible. i can sort of see it if you are a male beauty doing romantic comedies with emma stone or something, but i don't see it affecting spacey's bizarrely over-rated career over the last decade or whatever.
alright, but his approach of 'i don't remember it; if it happened, i'm sorry,' hints that it could be any one of dozens of boys. and then to explain that 'possibility' by 'actually, i'm gay,' is itself to equate homosexuality with pederasty. also i'm not impressed by drunkenness as an excuse. in that 'why they suck' column, i have to say that i was responding to what i experienced as an underlying vileness, and even if spacey is no kind of sexual predator at all, that statement is really vile. also i asserted that spacey's characters always seem to think they're the smartest person in the room, and other people do too, but that he rarely shows any actual symptoms of intelligence. that statement was almost bizarrely self-destructive, as though he's trying to alienate everybody as he tries also to placate them and make the whole thing go away.
splicetoday: the march of euphemism. the key to human liberation is to replace bad words with neutral-sounding words. then those words sound wrong, and we'll need new ones, forever. still, at least we'll all be free. okay, not to go all pointed, but the people who think that word replacement and censorious editing constitute substantive blows for the resistance are, you know, 'idiots, imbeciles, the feeble-minded, and moral defectives.' or to be fair - they are saying with the utmost apparent sincerity and intensity what they and we know very well to be false: that words create reality. obviously, harvey weinstein can learn to talk like a feminist and just keep right on with the abuse. correct?
for a week or two there i was a reporter, embedded in the monument wars (piece for citylab). there really is some great public art in philly right now; today might be a good one to check out monument lab before the rain hits.
karen olivier, "the battle is joined," in vernon park
I rejoice that horses and steers have to be broken before they can be made the slaves of men, and that men themselves have some wild oats still left to sow before they become submissive members of society. Undoubtedly, all men are not equally fit subjects for civilization; and because the majority, like dogs and sheep, are tame by inherited disposition, this is no reason why the others should have their natures broken that they may be reduced to the same level. Men are in the main alike, but they were made several in order that they might be various.
Good farmers are learning that there is a better way to treat their cattle than by blows. The hostler of intelligence and kindness, is ceasing to maul his noble horse. They are leaving off the practice of breaking steers and colts, for the reason that it is cruel: undeserved by the horse and unworthy of the employer, and because a whole horse or ox is better than a broken one. Political action is unfit even for brute animals. Is it fitter for man? Is humanity less susceptible of moral influences than what we call brutality? A politician is but a man driver, a human teamster. His business is to control men by the whip and the goad. His occupation would be unlawful and inexpedient toward even the cattle.
I started writing op-ed for the Nashville Banner (the afternoon daily, now defunct) in the early '90s when I was working at Vanderbilt. In the mid-to-late nineties I was more or less weekly for the Philadelphia Inquirer, probably 200 pieces, and had a few dozen in the Los Angeles Times. 2001-2004 or so, I did a weekly column for Creators' Syndicate, and a series of longer pieces in the Baltimore Sun. Success with Creators was limited, but I've probably been in every US daily one way or another. I did some essays for Weekend All Things Considered, and did place a couple back in the day with the Washington Post, though Lord knows I've been pitching them with some futility for many a year.
I left Creators when I fell in love with blogging; no editing can be seductive. But some items/runs from the last few years:
as classical greece was the golden era of sculpture, the italian renaissance the golden era of painting, and 2016 the golden era of pharmaceutical advertising on television, this is the golden age of the written word. it's like living with horace and virgil, i mean living with them.
i know people who have spent decades bemoaning whatever the media situation was at the moment, often in apocalyptic terms. really, we've been declining since 1952. y'all need to love the world a little as it stands right now, alright?
trump's un speech, threatening north korea with total annihilation could possibly be strategic. so say the us was really hinting that china had better remove the nk regime (cf entry a couple down). if china really was contemplating a nuclear or overwhelming sudden conventional destruction by the us right on their border, i think they'd act one way or another. and again, i'm suspecting that they've already infiltrated to some extent, and might be better than the us in imposing sudden cyber-destruction. look no other military procedure is even remotely plausible, including that american attack.
obviously, every 'military' approach to north korea looks impossible or disastrous. this is the only regime-change scenario i can picture: u.s. and south korea, perhaps with a un nod, approve an extremely sudden invasion and annexation of north korea by china. i'm sure that would make south korea nervous, but they can and do deal with china, and actually south korea's security would be extremely enhanced. i'm not endorsing this, i'm just saying that this is the only realistic way that the threat could be eliminated.
i think china has probably already run the scenarios; they just cannot want hydrogen bombs blowing up nearby, etc. then we'd have to work an international aid package, almost compensation. i'm not sure why no one is talking about this when all military action by the us looks impossible or disastrous.
New post. Gratuitous although relevant Doors music. Shakespeare. List of Russian Movies on Afghanistan. General Character assassination of Trump, although there's really not that much to assassinate. Call for Jesus to Smite Mike Pence. Normal Wednesday here in Wolf Country.
alright, i'm going to tell you, guiltily, what i like about trump, why i keep returning to a seemingly sympathetic tone, or why i sometimes 'relate,' though i utterly reject his politics. on the charlottesville weekend, i wrote this on saturday. (on saturday a counter-demonstrator was killed by a white supremacist, trump gave a lame reaction or a 'both sides do it' sort of thing. then on monday he said exactly what everyone demanded he say. then on tuesday he went off, in the disastrous way that finally convinced me that he actually is sympathetic to white supremacism.)
through my life, i have done a lot of saying what i was not supposed to say, from the slightly continually inappropriate to the in-your-face transgression. i have calmed down a lot through the years, actually, but i definitely have an impulse, in any given situation, to feel for the verboten position, word, line of jive, and then find a way to deliver it, perhaps with a slant that makes it a bit hard to interpret. when i feel that people are telling me what to say, i have a vivid physical sensation of constraint; i might comply for awhile; ultimately it won't go well. the peeceer the people around me, for example, the more i talk wrong, or work on ways to undermine the constriction.
this impulse, i feel, has stood me in good stead many a time, and if you ever want a counter-consensus position, i am the wholesale outlet. it's led me to important moral insights, i believe, including that the political state is completely incompatible with any decent ethics whatsoever. but it will also tempt me toward the dark side, toward, for example, the views that are the opposite of the pc views. but that they're not pc, of course, does not entail that they are not evil, and so on. i sort of sometimes end up on the wrong side even by my own lights.
trump has that same set-up, which is more or less why i connect with him. whatever his views on race, etc, his very being was rebelling at the notion that everyone was writing a script for him, that they didn't care what he thought as long as he said a pre-rehearsed set of words that anyone could write in their sleep. that press conference tuesday was his whole being just saying 'fuck you'; he was chomping at the bit; he had the sensation of a release from physical constraint, of selfhood and self-respect and defiance. but he also expressed considerable sympathy with fucking neo-nazis, alright? you cannot have that in a pres of the united states, however he got there.
what disturbs me more than anything about the current situation is that the left and the alt right seem to agree that free speech = fascism and white supremacism. that's ironic, etc, but it certainly portends disaster for the future of free expression. when i say that, i hope not to be expressing nazi sentiments. maybe you think the nazis were big advocates of free speech, har har.
i doubt that neo-nazis are free speech advocates when push comes to shove, for they are totalitarians. but i don't doubt that the left of this moment is more or less entirely opposed to free speech in any form at all. they are totalitarians too. i feel that overall this is not a good moment politically.
sorry about slow blogging. i'm not missing everything, however, in this wild and woolly period. real-time political commentary has basically moved to my weekly column on the world's liveliest website, splicetoday (today: political idolatry and iconoclasm, on confederate memorials and such) and my twitter feed @crispinsartwell. i'll be back on the blog too, i expect.
people who regard themselves as journalists came out of this weekend thinking that the main news story on charlottesville is what the president didn't say. this obsession with the presidency and cult of leadership is so stupid on so many levels, but it's also really quite evil. it is a devastating reflection on the personalities of those it holds in its thrall. that's my splicetoday column this week.