try to tune in one way or another to rand paul's speech tonight from berkeley. he's going to be saying things that no united states senator, no mainstream american politician, has said.
try to tune in one way or another to rand paul's speech tonight from berkeley. he's going to be saying things that no united states senator, no mainstream american politician, has said.
Put up a lengthy new piece over at The Defeatists...some good stuff in it. Tim Eagan wrote a great column this weekend on what a debased slug and hypocritical slime Paul Ryan is and why so extracts and links plus Bob Geldorf swearing at the monied establishment in Europe and the US.
Basically, Paul Ryan's appeal to the racist right with his use of the "poverty-entitlement-safety net qua cushion" is the same argument that cost Ireland 3 million people I70 years ago. It was a bad argument then, and it's worse now.
i will be on the al-jazeera english show "the stream" live at 3:30, talking with a cool panel about contemporary anarchism. now, al-jazeera english is not al-jazeera america, nor is the stream on aja the same as the stream on aje. and plus aje is "geo-blocked" in the states. one might be able to access it here, and maybe i'll be able to post a link to the video at some point.
i'm serious when i say this might be the best ad ever for anything.
remember the era of unrepentant scopophilia? it was a golden if somewhat problematic epoch for my gender!
the tune is "i saw the light". seriously.
there seems to be a gender oscillation in country music: 2013 was women, now the whole chart is dudes. i liked the female phase better. country music by boys is pitifully formulaic and predictable right now, for one thing in the lyric themes: if it's not her amazing ass in those tight jeans, the glory that is beer, and country boys and girls getting down down by the river, it's not saleable. unlike conway, though, these guys wear tighter jeans than "she" does. it's beginning to seem like they have computers in nashville generating lyrics in a mix-and-match process. the reductio ad absurdum is the oeuvre of the repellant luke bryan, and specifically the recent #1 hit "drink a beer", which, unbelievably, is supposed to be a highly evocatve tear-jerker. no matter how much one loves country music, the thought intrudes that maybe the whole thing was a terrible mistake, if this is where it led.
oy the emotion! the beeyar!
so all the guys below often work within the pop country cliches, some to better effect than others.
first eric church. i have liked him on and off; among other things i have been a bit obsessed by the perverse gospel love song "like jesus does". however, the outsiders rings false to me; i do not believe the countrier-than-thou redneckesque persona, and even though i can see some of the moves, like working into a zztopy hard blues rock on the title cut, i don't find the whole thing very interesting or convincing. sometimes a dude is out there trying too hard to be a badass to really work on the melodies. his dark side has a dark side, see. something like "that's damn rock 'n roll" is just silly. well, i do ultimately like the voice, especially when it quiets down a bit. like i'll take "a man who was gonna die young".
alright now we go to a pair, working in something like the same style (as one another): dierks bentley and david nail. these are rather odd names, i admit. they are traditional in themes and song structure, but the emphasis is definitely not fiddle and pedal steel; they create a smooth, mid-tempo overall effect in which it is somewhat difficult to recall one song rather than another. but the songwriting at its best in both cases is good. i do think bentley's "i hold on" is a thing they'll be constantly refinding on country stations for the next twenty years. but it's also the best song on riser. the album's consistently pretty good, though.
nail's #1 "whatever she's got" hits all the themes mentioned above like they are, um, roofing tacks. now, on the other hand, i heard it a couple of times on the radio and then found myself whistling it around the house, bellowing it in the shower, etc. so you can do even this if you do it in an extremely hooked-up way. i do like i'm a fire (er) best of these three. there are number of good songs, notably "broke my heart", and nail often deploys very simple three or five-note figures that are memorable, a contribution to the country arsenal. as the album goes on, he favors a constant harmony with a female voice, including lee ann womack on a fine cover of "galveston".
let me say this about the mood-ring girl who's never the same, makes her mind up just to change it, keeps you waiting around while she paints her toenails bright red, and do's whatever she wants etc: (a) she better be really really pretty, and (b) even if she is, it's going to wear off pretty quick.
that dianne feinstein is issuing broadsides against cia hacking is truly remarkable. no member of the senate has been as enthusiastic for secrecy, surveillance, and in general the national security state. for god's sake she had better let this make her think again about the whole kit and kaboodle, for this is happening to all of us. one thing i would certainly infer from the clarity and directness of feinstein's attack: she is clean: no affairs, addiction, tax evasion, significant campaign finance violations, delinquent children, embarassing internet searches or diseases. otherwise she would have been silenced. the idea that the intelligence services (or, as i prefer to think of them, syndicates) are subject to the oversight of anything or anyone is obviously ridiculous. they are the overseers.
republicans have condemned the all-night climate-change yapyap in the senate as "political theater". but what's cool about it is that it's avant-garde political theater, a step beyond the autistic drama of artaud; it's like beckett, though with less I-the-Genius hooey: theater without an audience, or indeed theater to which it would be impossible for anyone to pay attention. it's both the culmination and the annihilation of the very idea of theater. the blankness, the sheer repetition, the vitiated collective rhetoric, the automatism: it is both an example and, implicitly, a critique, of the postpostmodern era, a perfect correlate of these, the last days. the charcters are postpersons, not really distinguishable qua moral agents from their podium. really, a devastating portrayal and a profound critique of this era when even airliners, like ratiocination, disappear into an interdimensional wormhole.
Heidigger wrote someplace "Let being be..." I think most of us agree that after the first few chapters of Being and Time, Heidigger is basically useless, impossible to translate meaningfully into German from Heidiggerdido let alone to English...anyway, moments of clarity come from odd places. And, what serves me as clarity may obscure for another...so, when you find it, enjoy...
i define 'terrorism' as military-style action directed primarily at non-combatants. by that standard, both allied and axis "strategic" bombing campaigns in ww2, culminating in dropping atomic bombs on japan, constituted terrorism on an extreme scale. (just for the hell of it, with regard to the approach of monuments men, it would be worth thinking about the great works of art and cultural treasures of various sorts that were destroyed by allied bombing, such as dresden. i think the total would be far more than the germans stole.) one theory that would fully justify such action would, believe it or not, be basic statism: hobbes leviathan, for example, or rousseau general will: the state is really all of us as a single individual: we all have one will, etc etc. why are you paying taxes, whether for food stamps or stealth bombers? because you're paying taxes to all of us together, because we're all in this together. well then if you're at war with 'germany' the average peasant woman who just wants to forget about politics and war is as legitimate a target as goering; indeed they are the very same person. if you feel that 'america' is messing up your region or your religion, you should kill any american you can: your flying airplanes into skyscrapers is as valid as your complaint against the 'nation'. if you're in a total war with 'japan', then your goal is kill japan, i.e. on this excruciatingly wrong theory absolutely every japanese person qua single agent. and it's not just nationalism/statism, but collective consciousness: oh what shall we do about 'the jew'? 'the jew' is all the jews as a single person. oh well, annihilate them all, no matter the differences and distances, no matter how irrelevant to any actual grievances a particular cell in the giant jew organism is. what shall we do about the negro? here's an individual: the bourgeosie: liquidate that individual. you should think about this every single time you effortlessly deploy any collective, group, or national identity.
i watched a bunch of the last day of cpac. now i want to consider this "nuanced analysis", attributed by dan balz to henry olsen, who distinguishes four factions of the republican party: somewhat conservative, very conservative, moderates, and liberals. i say this is a perfect example of what i call "spectrum blindness": you can't see anything about anything if it has to fall on the left-right spectrum. so, rand paul, who killed the straw poll, is a severe peacenik, screamingly anti-nsa, and more or less sympathetic to gay marriage and marijuana legalization. but he's anti-welfare-state in a big way, and will start by savaging government spending. sarah palin who finished the whole thing up with a masterful if substanceless stand-up routine howled small government throughout, except for the part where she was extremely about increasing military and intelligence spending. rather a silly juxtaposition. there was a lot of anti-immigrant talk, and jesus and "pro-family" (=anti-gay) stuff came from a number of speakers. then you have heldover bushy national-security state pure huge gov hawks. now when you try to range these extremely incompatible positions by which is very and which is somewhat conservative it obviously makes no sense, and these factions are more incompatible with one another than with the obama they all hate. so, you've got to go: libertarians; neo-cons or military-security hawks; religious/social reactionairies; and chimerae such as palin. it's amazing that people can keep going 'sorta right, right, very right' when it just obviously has nothing to do with reality. who's further right: palin or paul? dan balz has no more idea than anyone else, really.
While I might have a lot to say about the Defense proposal which has already been overtaken by events, or the invasion of Ukraine which has really been unfolding since Boris Gudonov's defeat of the Tartars and the beginning of the Russian state, I decided to look at things through something I kind of understand...and Gettysburg is a great example of how badly things can go...and serves well as a metaphor for things could have been better, could have been worse but ultimately, wouldn't change a lot.
i'm all up in the comments in this review of the worst line of "scientific" "research" ever pursued. you'd think it would be impossible to be as disingenuous and doltish as "scientists" of this stripe, but at least they have achieved self-fellation.
while people lob little hitlers at each other and casually call one another fascists, try this thought experiment: quick, without looking something up, sketch out the basic positions of fascism. oops you don't know what it means. now look it up, guess what, you still don't know what it means. as a real historical political ideology it was just a grab-bag of random elements, completely incoherent, and at this point it has no more content than "asshole" or whatever. ok ok! i've done it too.
of all institutions, both among those that are and among those that are not, i am least impressed by "international law". i quote peter simons' review of tim crane's the objects of thought (tls, february 28): "But Crane, in line with both common sense and Husserl, denies that there really are any non-existent objects." a controversial position indeed! and yet perhaps illustrated by this case.
so now the line is that putin is "crazy", a "wild card", a "loose cannon", "out of touch with reality" and so on. amazing how the media will just mirror the crap officials are spouting, just as though they are incapable of thought. maybe it's all part of the attempt to scribble a little hitler mustache on the man. it's ridiculous, and i also don't see strategically how it's part of a sensible approach. for one thing, it keeps up the idea of extremely underestimating putin, which i feel might, in retrospect, not be seen as having been the best approach.
in fact, putin's finding fascists everywhere too, while people ask whether it's the cold war again, etc etc. i think one should respond to the facts on the ground now, not mount fantastic recapitulations of the ideological idiocies of times gone by.
meanwhile, hillary, zbig and many others are using hitler in the 30s to understand putin now, or rather to pursue some propaganda aim that is rather hard to fathom. surely the only possible idea in going all hitler/appeasement is to mobilize europe for war. is that your idea? because if not what you're saying is idiotic. now, it's easy to think that if you want to deal with the present you have to know the past, if you forget it you'll repeat it, you have to learn the lessons of history, and a dozen other cliches. but really history blinds as much as it reveals: some dude on al jazeera was saying putin's stuck in the 30s, but he was himself just doing that 30s hitler thing. people pull out things like 'sudentenland' first of all to establish their credibilitty by bewildering non-historians, and second to have various manipulative propaganda effects. you think if you place what's happening now in 1937 or 1856 you'll understand it. no, you'll just be talking about 1937, and not even that. you'll blind yourself to what is happening in the unique now. you want a slot to stick it in, no matter how badly it fits: you're trying to understand what's happening now a priori without engaging it at all. it's all ideological blinders; it's all digression, distraction, misdirection.
kerry says that putin is engaged in a 19th century act. obama says that putin is on the wrong side of history. many's the time i've said this: this is a completely ridiculous structure of thought. history has no particular goal, and if it did it would not be the contemporary welfare mega-state or however obama of hollande envision it. no, you can't turn time around and commit nineteenth century acts. really the complete conceptual impossibility and anti-empirical a priori horseshit of this basic stance has got to go. if obama is sure that he knows the direction of history, which is for the world to become whatever he thinks it should become, this would be described in other contexts as psychotic. time runs in one direction at one pace and history, as far as we can tell, could end up anywhere or nowhere at all.
really, i have not taken sides on ukraine so far, and in the first post where i sort of predicted an invasion (feb 27), i speculated that the us, faced with a similar situation, would consider military intervention too. but now let me point out a few things about putin. he consolidated his power and established his reputation with the chechen genocide. people claimed to be worried about security at the olympics, but there is no one you'd rather be handling your security if you don't care how it's done. he used tried and true techniques: rounding up the young man of, e.g., dagestan, torturing them, and dumping their bodies in shallow graves. he may be the richest man in the world, with all the feeling of impunity such a status bequeaths. he has no significant internal opposition, or threat to his political status; by a hundred techniques he has eliminated or isolated opponents. i don't regard him as a classic semi-cracked conqueror a la hitler or napoleon; but he is cagey and extremely aggressive and brutal when he wants to be. there is liable to be again something well-described as an empire when he is done.
yesterday at the white house: meeting of the joint chiefs, defense secretary, cia, etc. what were they discussing? ww3 scenarios, baby. and as they did so, i imagine them sort of sobbing, etc, not because they're sad about the suffering caused in a war, but because they have no realistic way to respond, and to say that the eu is a decadent quasi-state is an understatement; they're drafting capitulation documents right now, which is probably the main contingency plan recommended by the joint chiefs too. you can judge this by the weapon they actually launched, temporarily suspending g8 summit preparations.
meanwhile ban ki moon urges in his riveting style that calm should be restored to the ukraine. oh that is exactly what putin will be doing over the next few days.
it is absolutely amazing how sluggish the hawking teds are on this. yesterday experts were still doubting, even as the obvious invasion had been in process for a day, that there would be an invasion. a british diplomat on cnn this morning: the solution is for the kiev government to assure its russian-oriented citizens that their interests will be taken into account. by my calculation they have 17 minutes to accomplish that. he says he doubts the russians will go further than the crimea, and he doesn't think they want to annex it. they have already annexed the crimea and the same thing is happening in east/south ukraine that happened there: mysterious armed men, russian flags being raised. i wonder if western experts will notice anything that happens over the next few days, or continue to deal with a reality of their own imagining.
so while i'm in prediction mode: yes, there will further incursions into ukraine, possibly rolling into kiev. no there is no possibility of military resistance. but i'm grooving on the biker gang angle.
'war in the crimea!' sure has a sweet late19th/early20th-century-type ring. i wonder what the response will be of the ottoman empire? and what about the habsburgs? there are so many unaccountable factors.
i try to avoid i-told-you-sos. but i'm sort of proud i saw that coming. ok, now we proceed to the nothingness of the response. here's one 'threat': no g8 summit in sochi! "that's a big stick" said jane harman on cnn just now, and wolf was all like he couldn't believe they'd be considering such a step: boy, the situation must be bad. this is the problem with 'media' persons: they have lost the rather important distinction between real and merely symbolic events. i blame richard rorty. you deploy helicopter gunships, we counter with a proportionate volley of yacketsmackety. oooh don't make me come over there and murmur nonsense with my mealy mouthweapon! don't make me send john kerry over there to look at you blankly and rehearse a little empty script. words have power, after all. i'm picturing putin, as he coordinates the invasion and thinks about next steps, re-thinking the whole thing under this terrible threat, quailing at the mere thought. anyway, it's going to be all absolute emptiness: it's not in the interests of the ukraine, russia, europe: ok everyone is going to say those words in that order for days now, and yet it is the merest slop. which is all we got, y'all.
he'll pay a price, says obama. so what does that mean? according to experts, putin may just be squandering the good will that was created by the olympics! he really cares about his international standing, you know. but i would say that these are, how you say, non-things, unlike the crimean peninsula, which is a thing.
even as it sort of begins to seem that russian soldiers are 'securing' airports in the crimea, talking heads still seem sanguine: oh, i wouldn't expect a major incursion. dude: why do you think they want the airports? it's one way you stage an invasion. or maybe the idea is evacuation of russian citizens. but i don't really think so. both, perhaps. i just think we're a bit in a possible ww3 situation, and we had better pay attention. so say you have an indigenous pro-russian protest movement. that does not take the form of military vehicles/forces securing the airports. i'd look for a multi-modal russian intervention. today.
here's why it might not be ww3 even if there's an actual invasion: the government(s) of europe and the united states really have no resolve on something like this. all they will do is whine. the welfare-state dependent populations of these countries are not the sorts of people who would fight for anything or really push their governments to do so. putin will kick our ass and then grin sneeringly upon us. we will squawk and accept the new borders.
they say yanukovich is supposed to speak from russia in a bit. and al-jazeera, for example, asked one of its experts whether yanukovich is still relevant. believe it or not, he started talking about polling for the april presidential election. yanukovich is relevant insofar as putin thinks he'd be useful as a spokesman pushing the view that the legit gov has been overthrown etc, as a justification for the seizure of the crimea (to begin with), or as a provisional pres of east/south ukraine. i'd say not, because of the obvious kelptocracy. on the other hand, putin can relate to a kleptocrat. but if he is giving a speech today (scheduled for 8AM eastern), i'd pay attention to that too: it might be moment the russians make their intentions known more clearly, a sort of declaration of war.
there's an italian futurist blockbuster at the guggenheim, and everyone's reviewing. "There is not a single painting in the Guggenheim exhibition that I find entirely satisfying", jed perl wites in the new republic. peter schjeldahl in the new yorker (march 3) describes it as "the most neglected canonical movement in modern art - because it is also the most embarrassing", and he describes umberto boccioni as "its one great artist". fascism is the big problem. but as these critics and others also acknowledge, futurism is central to the history of avant-garde modernism: typical, really, except for the rightwing instead of leftwing lean (the comparable contemporary nyc avant-gardists were emma-goldman anarchists, for example).
but i disagree with the negative assessments, and i think they still reflect the politics of the critics. i'll just pick out giacomo balla as one of the first abstractionists and one of the very best. here's an example ("street light", 1909(!)).
i say that compares very favorably, both as to radicalness and as to formal interest, to what the fauvists or soon the cubists were producing.
and here is a sculpture from 1914.
the politics surely have lost their sting, receded into history as an interesting background fact rather than a dispositive aesthetic refutation. futurism is an almost desperate attempt to affirm modernity, affirm the machine, affirm motion (well, and war). but for precisely that reason it is a symptom and index of the alienation it tries to erase or overcome: or in other words, a paradigmatic response to its moment which reveals that moment from many angles at once. the beauty does emerge from the affirmation, and it contrasts with the ugliness and stasis of cubism, for example, even when it looks pretty similar. then if you're revealing the beauty of technology and even war: well, that is extremely problematic. but it is extremely absorbing: a really rich context of interpretation. also it is a real, or the real, avant-garde: radical, forward-looking, way way early for how it looks, extremely influential even on all the artists who repudiated it and pretended not to have been absorbed by it. in some ways the dadaists and surrealists with their manifestos etc were imitators.
so look i'm an anarchist and all, and in some ways, say arthur dove or marsden hartley are doing similar work. but it has not held up as well visually i think, not even close (only o'keeffe). i like caravaggio. how worried am i about his positive attitude to the counter-reformation? oh not very; definitely not making me not like the paintings. all those dudes who painted for monster-kings: holbein, say. or all them commies throughout modernism; i don't think that's better than messing with mussolini in 1912.
evil idiots are peering at you through your webcam. meanwhile, everyone from secretaries of state to eminent professors are still yapping about democracy, as though that had anything to do with anything. really political theory devoted to democracy is just a form of fantasy fiction, and the continued verbal assertion by barack or kerry that the united states is a democracy or supports democracy is just the ridiculous ideological yipyap of slave-drivers. this here is precisely where american democracy ended up; until you show me differently i will assume this is what you always meant: a secret regime of total surveillance: an allday everyday home invasion of everyone, paid for by themselves under coercion. here would be my policy directive to the leaders and employees of the nsa, sort of a minimum baseline: do not act so as to richly deserve death by torture. you fail utterly by this standard. so i'm going to ask again: what are we going to do about it? who are we, really? we are grovellers, snivellers; we are servile, broken. as persons, we no longer exist. quoting nathaniel peabody rogers: The earth had better go unpeopled than inhabited by vassals.
folks seem remarkably calm about this moment in the ukraine. i would not be so sure that the russian military is engaged in an exercise, and the crimean thing could easily provide or perhaps is being manufactured as an excuse for russian military incursion of one size or another. please remember that we are dealing with a rather swaggering macho leader who is very often trying to show the world his balls. but actually, if it were us sitting on that border with a big american-identified population over there and so on, we would be considering military intervention too. anyway, one fucks up when one predicts, but i would be worried about a blitzkrieg in the next couple of days.
i finally buckled under the boredom and started watching the netflix house of cards. now don't get me wrong - or, what the hell, get me wrong. that said, or left forever unsaid, i think one of the worst developments in the world of film and television is the persona of the virtuoso actor, and i have really more or less hated kevin spacey, philip seymour hoffman, and meryl streep, for example. here is the problem: their super amazing extremely self-conscious virtuosity is incompatible with the fictional contexts into which it is deployed. you go see streep play abraham lincoln or sea biscuit, and what you actually watch is streep-the-great-ack-toor: whoa the accent! the elocution! or whatever. really, people are all like "i'd pay to see daniel day lewis play a household appliance", and i feel that they often have. so, when you go see philip seymour hoffman play a bookcase or whatever it may be, you'll be all: 'i really thought he was actually a bookcase!' what that means is the opposite of what it says: you watched the extreme simulatedness of the extreme simulation and got off on that, not the script, for example. on the other hand, spacey merely irritates me, and i did get irritated with house of cards. i am still trying to figure out the accent - allaeged to be a georgia drawl - which sounds like a mix of cajun and afrikaans. oh hell i got caught up, though, and honestly, robin wright, whom i've been admiring since santa barbara circa 1987, can be on my television any time or all the time.
(1) perhaps i've done this before, and (2) i am certainly no expert on the origins and history of the the works of plato, or the process by which they came through all that stuff into the modern world.
two of the texts i have taught most often are the republic and the symposium. i do not believe they were written by the same person. of course, authors write in different moods or even to some extent in different styles, but this is kind of ridiculous. i do think the republic is just a nightmare of self-congratulation, self-aggrandizement, lies; it's a straight-up evil text, a mein kampf for ancient greece, but overall less plausible. also, what the hell, i am very unimpressed by the quality of the argumentation and also the way the dialogue form is deployed, which is the worst kind of set-em-up-and-knock-em-down bulljive. the most frequent form of words is "very true, socrates!" it displays the operations of an extraordinarily rigid and deluded mind.
the symposium, on the other hand, is a rollicking drinking party with many wild voices yapping about love, written with a loose delight, even as it does move toward that more-or-less platonic metaphysics of the forms etc. most of the platonic corpus celebrates and insists on reason and at least apparently disqualifies everything else - the emotions, the body, the material universe - as evil and unreal. the symposium loves the body, loves poetry, loves art, loves sex, and then tells you that these are routes to transcendence. now i ask you: are those the same position?
i'm going to speculate that the symposium is a slice of what might have been a pretty vast socratic apocrypha, and in particular it is the source of 'neo-platonism' and the cult of beauty that runs through figures such as plotinus, shaftesbury, and, let's say, liberace. it's a text that your mentor shows you late at night; he keeps it hidden in a secret case in the wall of his bedroom. right, then he seduces you, because that's essential to your education; it seems to me, simplifying a bit, part of a semi-secret gay philosophy that was taught in whispers throughout the christian and islamic eras. marsilio ficino had you reading it while he did you. obviously, the republic was known to be written by plato by his student aristotle, who argues directly against it in the politics. is there as clear an early attribution of the symposium?
and if you connected up this and that development - michelangelo, cardinal francesco maria del monte, winckelmann, the leo strauss exoteric/esoteric approach to plato studies and the various platonic activities of allan bloom, etc - you might see the temporal scope. but perhaps it's always been the scripture of a mystery religion with sex ceremonies etc. well, at least it's not the republic.
so who could help me with this? things don't pop up easily on the internet. but it would surprise me just a bit if what we have today as the text of the dialogues of plato comes to us with a perfectly clear and unbroken chain of provenance from the academy, and even if it did . . . . indeed ficino himself is one of the bottlenecks or nodes, though very obviously the text of the symposium was known to plotinus, for example. on the other hand, perhaps our plotinus is also ficino-dependent? i guess i know enough to know that there are some contested texts: letters, principally. but what if there are multiple authors right there among the canonical dialogues? i feel that there are., but i have no idea how my sense of the texts, styles, positions (all understood through translations) comports with what could plausibly be true in terms of the philology.
venezuela, ukraine: there they have pride. there they want freedom. here, we face one of the most effective exercises of totalitarian power ever created: a universal system of continual surveillance. why aren't we out in the streets, filling molotov cocktails and erecting barriers against storm troopers? because americans of our time hate and fear liberty, and love and respond sexually to their own subordination. all we want is to be raped by repulsive idiots such as james ("fucking") clapper.
russia is capable of producing pussy riots. we are capable only of producing squads of hillary clintons: currently focus-grouping her positions and indeed her entire personality.