Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Riffing Hubristic

"...the formula of modern totalitarianism is not “I don’t care what you think, just do it.” This is traditional authoritarianism. The modern day totalitarian formula is, “I know better than you what you really want.”
-Slavoj Zizek

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Who's Rage Matters? Who's Fears?

Peter Sloterdijk is one of the most accurate diagnosticians of our time. In his work Rage and Time, from the distinction between Eros (desire, that is the desire to possess, that is the possession of objects) and Thymos (pride, that is giving-willing, that is recognition) he offers an alternative history of the West – that is, as history of anger management. The “Iliad”, its founding text, begins in fact with the word “anger.” Homer calls the goddess to stand by him when he sings the song of the anger of Achilles. Although the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon concerns a woman – Agamemnon robbed Achilles of his slave girl Briseis – it is not about the loss of an erotic object, but about injured pride. And that is Sloterdijk’s point.

While anger can explode in ancient Greece, he experiences a profound change in the Jewish-Christian tradition, a sublimation, a postponement. No longer us, but God is keeping a record of our transgressions, and decides on the Day of Judgment. The Christian prohibition of revenge is the exact counterpart to the apocalyptic scene of the last days. The idea of ​​a Last Judgment, in which all the accumulated debts are paid off and a world out of joint is corrected, lives in secularized form in modern leftist projects.

Now the judge is no longer God but the people. Left political movements in fact act like Anger-Banks (Zorn-Banken). They collect collective Anger-Investment (Zorn-Investitionen) and, in turn, promise the people long-term Revenge-Interest (Rache-Zinsen), thus establishing a more just world. Because after the revolutionary Anger-Explosion (Zorn-Explosion) the ultimate payment never takes place, and inequality and hierarchy always reappear, there is always an urge for the second – true, total – revolution. It is only to satisfy the disappointed and to bring the liberation to an end: in 1792 after 1789, October after February 1917.

This leads us to the great problem of Western Marxism today: the absence of a revolutionary subject. Who could take the role of the proletariat? The farmers in the Third World, students and intellectuals are excluded. In the meantime, the refugees are to revive the European left, after the motto: If there is no real proletariat at this stage, the revolution could just be transferred to imported substitute subjects. This way of thinking is cynical through and through. It bears witness to a leftist paternalism, quite apart from the fact that it gives new impetus to the violence against immigrants.

The problem is that there is simply never enough spontaneous Anger-Capital (Zorn-Kapital) – that is why the leaders have been borrowing from other Anger-Banks, like the Nation or Culture. In Fascism, the national anger prevailed. In China’s communism, Mao mobilized the cultural anger of the exploited peasantry. In our time there are two main types of anger left: the anger of the losing Islamic modernists against the decadent system of capitalism, and the wrath of the right-wing populists that is aimed at immigrants. In lesser form, Latin American populists, consumerists and other representatives are resentful of the refusal to recognize globalization. The only thing that is clear: the situation is confusing, all the different forms of anger (Zorn-Formen) do not come together.
- Slavoj Žižek, "On Peter Sloterdijk: The revolution does take place, just differently"

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Power of Nightmares

My impoverished muse, alas! What have you for me this morning?
Your empty eyes are stocked with nocturnal visions,
In your cheek's cold and taciturn reflection,
I see insanity and horror forming.

The green succubus and the red urchin,
Have they poured you fear and love from their urns?
The nightmare of a mutinous fist that despotically turns,
Does it drown you at the bottom of a loch beyond searching?

I wish that your breast exhaled the scent of sanity,
That your womb of thought was not a tomb more frequently
And that your Christian blood flowed around a buoy that was rhythmical,

Like the numberless sounds of antique syllables,
Where reigns in turn the father of songs,
Phoebus, and the great Pan, the harvest sovereign.
- Charles Baudelaire, "The Sick Muse"

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Salmagundi

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday,
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy
- James Orchard Halliwell* (1842)

*Note - Halliwell had a habit, detested by bibliophiles, of cutting up seventeenth-century books and pasting parts he liked into scrapbooks. During his life he destroyed eight hundred books and made thirty-six hundred scraps.

---

from Wikipedia:
The word salmagundi is derived from the French word salmigondis which means disparate assembly of things, ideas or people, forming an incoherent whole. Salmagundi is used figuratively in modern English to mean a mixture or assortment of things.

The name later evolved to Solomon Gundy in the eighteenth century. It seems likely that the name is connected with the children’s rhyme, Solomon Grundy. Solomon Gundy retains its food connotation today as the name given to a **spicy Caribbean paste made of mashed, pickled herrings, peppers and onions.
**Note - Salmagundi (sometimes abbreviated as salmi) is also a salad dish, originating in the early 17th century in England, comprising cooked meats, seafood, vegetables, fruit, leaves, nuts and flowers and dressed with oil, vinegar and spices. There is some debate over the meaning and origin of the word. The French word "salmagondis" means a hodgepodge or mix of widely disparate things.

In English culture the term does not refer to a single recipe, but describes the grand presentation of a large plated salad comprising many disparate ingredients. These can be arranged in layers or geometrical designs on a plate or mixed. The ingredients are then drizzled with a dressing. The dish aims to produce wide range of flavours and colours and textures on a single plate. Often recipes allow the cook to add various ingredients which may be available at hand, producing many variations of the dish. Flowers from broom and sweet violet were often used.

In Jamaica, Solomon gundy refers more specifically to a dish made of salt herring and spices

Salmagundi is also purportedly a meal served on pirate ships. It is a stew of anything the cook had on hand, usually consisting of chopped meat, anchovies, eggs, and onions, often arranged in rows on lettuce and served with vinegar and oil, and spiced with anything available. The following is taken from a reprint of Mrs. Hill's New Cook Book, originally published in 1867 and republished by Applewood Books of Bedford, Massachusetts.
Salvador Dali, "Paranoia" (1944)

Friday, August 4, 2017

The iMom

15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? 17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Mathew 7:15-20
---
Because I feel that, in the Heavens above,
The angels, whispering to one another,
Can find, among their burning terms of love,
None so devotional as that of “Mother,”
Therefore by that dear name I long have called you—
You who are more than mother unto me,
And fill my heart of hearts, where Death installed you
In setting my Virginia's spirit free.
My mother—my own mother, who died early,
Was but the mother of myself; but you
Are mother to the one I loved so dearly,
And thus are dearer than the mother I knew
By that infinity with which my wife
Was dearer to my soul than its soul-life.
-E.A. Poe, "To My Mother"

Russia-Russia-Russia: The Shepard's Tone Buried in the MSM's 24/7 News Cycle

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Saving Face in a Democracy...



...on the nature of neighbors
The recent expulsion oF illegal Roma (“Gypsies”) from France back to Romania sparked protests across Europe from both the liberal media and top politicians–and not only those on the Left. The expulsions, however, proceeded–and they are the tip of a much larger iceberg of European politics.

Incidents like these have to be seen against the background of a long-term re-arrangement of the political space in Western and Eastern Europe. Until recently, the political space of European countries was dominated by two main parties that addressed the entire electoral body–a right-of-center party and a left-of-center party. The latest electoral results in the West, as well as in the East, signal the gradual emergence of a different polarity. We have one predominant centrist party which stands for global capitalism as such, usually with a liberal cultural agenda (tolerance toward abortion, gay rights, religious and ethnic minorities, etc.). Opposing this party is an ever stronger anti-immigrant populist party that, on its fringes, is accompanied by directly racist neo-Fascist groups. How did we get here?

When the Communist regimes disintegrated in 1990, we entered an era in which the predominant form of the exercise of state power became a depoliticized expert administration and coordination of interests. In this new context, the only way to introduce passion into such a nonpolitical realm, to actively mobilize people, is through fear: fear of immigrants, fear of crime, fear of godless sexual depravity, fear of ecological catastrophe and also fear of harassment (Political Correctness is the exemplary liberal form of the politics of fear).

Consequently, the notion of “toxic subjects” gained ground. While toxic subjects originate from popular psychology warning us against emotional vampires, the frontier of toxic subjects is expanding. The predicate “toxic” covers a series of properties that belong to totally different levels (natural, cultural, psychological, political).

Socially, what is most toxic is the foreign Neighbor–the strange abyss of his pleasures, beliefs and customs. Consequently, the ultimate aim of all rules of interpersonal relations is to quarantine (or at least neutralize and contain) this toxic dimension, and thereby reduce the foreign Neighbor–by removing his otherness–to an unthreatening fellow man. The end result: today’s tolerant liberal multiculturalism is an experience of the Other deprived of its Otherness–the decaffeinated Other who dances fascinating dances and has an ecologically sound holistic approach to reality while features like wife beating remain out of sight.

The mechanism of such neutralization was best formulated in 1938 by Robert Brasillach, the French Fascist intellectual, condemned and shot in 1945, who saw himself as a “moderate” anti-Semite. Brasillach put it this way: “We grant ourselves permission to applaud Charlie Chaplin, a half Jew, at the movies; to admire Proust, a half Jew; to applaud Yehudi Menuhin, a Jew; and the voice of Hitler is carried over radio waves named after the Jew Hertz. … We don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to organize any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable actions of instinctual anti-Semitism is to organize a reasonable anti-Semitism.”

Is this same attitude not at work in the way our governments are dealing with the “immigrant threat”? After righteously rejecting direct populist racism as “unreasonable” and unacceptable for our democratic standards, they endorse “reasonably” racist protective measures. Or, as today’s Brasillachs tell us: “We grant ourselves permission to applaud African and Eastern- European sportsmen, Asian doctors, Indian software programmers. We don’t want to kill anyone, we don’t want to organize any pogrom. But we also think that the best way to hinder the always unpredictable violent anti-immigrant defensive measures is to organize a reasonable anti-immigrant protection.”

This vision of detoxification of the Neighbor presents a clear passage from direct barbarism to barbarism with a human face. It practices the regression from the Christian gospel (love thy neighbor) back to the Greco-Roman privileging of tribe over the barbarian Other. Cloaked as a defense of Christian values, it is itself the greatest threat to our Christian legacy.
-Slavoj Zizek, "Barbarism With A Human Face"

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lila's Sketchbook

My sketchbook is worn.

All of its pages are torn.

It is so tired
From being rubbed the wrong way
In between the heavy load
Of all of my other books.

You make me sit in a chair and tell me
how things are
how things were
how things will be.

Maybe I don’t like the world I live in.

Instead
I am making world’s that defy these
Restrictive laws
Of science
Of society.

I make things that could happen
If man could only be
Open to the possibilities
That lay on this page.

So, if you would be so kind
As to let me be.

I am trying to make a better world for me.
-NerdyKid118

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vor Sonnen-Aufgang (Before Sunrise)

Hast thou a charm to stay the morning-star
In his steep course? So long he seems to pause
On thy bald awful head, O sovran BLANC,
The Arve and Arveiron at thy base
Rave ceaselessly; but thou, most awful Form!
Risest from forth thy silent sea of pines,
How silently! Around thee and above
Deep is the air and dark, substantial, black,
An ebon mass: methinks thou piercest it,
As with a wedge! But when I look again,
It is thine own calm home, thy crystal shrine,
Thy habitation from eternity!
O dread and silent Mount! I gazed upon thee,
Till thou, still present to the bodily sense,
Didst vanish from my thought: entranced in prayer
I worshipped the Invisible alone.

Yet, like some sweet beguiling melody,
So sweet, we know not we are listening to it,
Thou, the meanwhile, wast blending with my Thought,
Yea, with my Life and Life's own secret joy:
Till the dilating Soul, enrapt, transfused,
Into the mighty vision passing—there
As in her natural form, swelled vast to Heaven!

Awake, my soul! not only passive praise
Thou owest! not alone these swelling tears,
Mute thanks and secret ecstasy! Awake,
Voice of sweet song! Awake, my heart, awake!
Green vales and icy cliffs, all join my Hymn.

Thou first and chief, sole sovereign of the Vale!
O struggling with the darkness all the night,
And visited all night by troops of stars,
Or when they climb the sky or when they sink:
Companion of the morning-star at dawn,
Thyself Earth's rosy star, and of the dawn
Co-herald: wake, O wake, and utter praise!
Who sank thy sunless pillars deep in Earth?
Who filled thy countenance with rosy light?
Who made thee parent of perpetual streams?

And you, ye five wild torrents fiercely glad!
Who called you forth from night and utter death,
From dark and icy caverns called you forth,
Down those precipitous, black, jagg
-Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Hymn before Sun-rise, in the Vale of Chamouni"

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Progressives Who Would Kill Don Trumpote

What I take you to say, and what I should have said myself if I had had the wit or the depth, is that the one thing which no utilitarian paradise, no promise of eternal harmony in the future within some vast organic whole will make us accept is the use of human beings as mere means--the doctoring of them until they are made to do what they do, not for the sake of the purposes which are their purposes, fulfillment of hopes which however foolish or desperate are at least their own, but for reasons which only we, the manipulators, who freely twist them for our purposes, can understand. What horrifies one about Soviet or Nazi practice is not merely the suffering and the cruelty, since although that is bad enough, it is something which history has produced too often, and to ignore its apparent inevitability is perhaps real Utopianism--no; what turns one inside out, and is indescribable, is the spectacle of one set of persons who so tamper and "get at" others that the others do their will without knowing what they are doing; and in this lose their status as free human beings, indeed as human beings at all.

When armies were slaughtered by other armies in the course of history, we might be appalled by the carnage and turn pacifist; but our horror acquires a new dimension when we read about children, or for that matter grown-up men and women, whom the Nazis loaded into trains bound for gas chambers, telling them that they were going to emigrate to some happier place. Why does this deception, which may in fact have diminished the anguish of the victims, arouse a really unutterable kind of horror in us? The spectacle, I mean, of the victims marching off in happy ignorance of their doom amid the smiling faces of their tormentors? Surely because we cannot bear the thought of human beings denied their last rights--of knowing the truth, of acting with at least the freedom of the condemned, of being able to face their destruction with fear or courage, according to their temperaments, but at least as human beings, armed with the power of choice. It is the denial to human beings of the possibility of choice, the getting them into one's power, the twisting them this way and that in accordance with one's whim, the destruction of their personality by creating unequal moral terms between the gaoler and the victim, whereby the gaoler knows what he is doing, and why, and plays upon the victim, i.e. treats him as a mere object and not as a subject whose motives, views, intentions have any intrinsic weight whatever--by destroying the very possibility of his having views, notions of a relevant kind--that is what cannot be borne at all.

What else horrifies us about unscrupulousness if not this? Why is the thought of someone twisting someone else round his little finger, even in innocent contexts, so beastly (for instance in Dostoevsky's Dyadyushkin son [Uncle's Dream, a novella published in 1859], which the Moscow Arts Theatre used to act so well and so cruelly)? After all, the victim may prefer to have no responsibility; the slave be happier in his slavery. Certainly we do not detest this kind of destruction of liberty merely because it denies liberty of action; there is a far greater horror in depriving men of the very capacity for freedom--that is the real sin against the Holy Ghost. Everything else is bearable so long as the possibility of goodness--of a state of affairs in which men freely choose, disinterestedly seek ends for their own sake--is still open, however much suffering they may have gone through. Their souls are destroyed only when this is no longer possible. It is when the desire for choice is broken that what men do thereby loses all moral value, and actions lose all significance (in terms of good and evil) in their own eyes; that is what is meant by destroying people's self-respect, by turning them, in your words, into rags. This is the ultimate horror because in such a situation there are no worthwhile motives left: nothing is worth doing or avoiding, the reasons for existing are gone. We admire Don Quixote, if we do, because he has a pure-hearted desire to do what is good, and he is pathetic because he is mad and his attempts are ludicrous.

For Hegel and for Marx (and possibly for Bentham, although he would have been horrified by the juxtaposition) Don Quixote is not merely absurd but immoral. Morality consists in doing what is good. Goodness is that which will satisfy one's nature. Only that will satisfy one's nature which is part of the historical stream along which one is carried willy-nilly, i.e. that which "the future" in any case holds in store. In some ultimate sense, failure is proof of a misunderstanding of history, of having chosen what is doomed to destruction, in preference to that which is destined to succeed. But to choose the former is "irrational," and since morality is rational choice, to seek that which will not come off is immoral. This doctrine that the moral and the good is the successful, and that failure is not only unfortunate but wicked, is at the heart of all that is most horrifying both in utilitarianism and in "historicism" of the Hegelian, Marxist type. For if only that were best which made one happiest in the long run, or that which accorded with some mysterious plan of history, there really would be no reason to "return the ticket." Provided that there was a reasonable probability that the new Soviet man might either be happier, even in some very long run, than his predecessors, or that history would be bound sooner or later to produce someone like him whether we liked it or not, to protest against him would be mere silly romanticism, "subjective," "idealistic," ultimately irresponsible. At most we would argue that the Russians were factually wrong and the Soviet method not the best for producing this desirable or inevitable type of man. But of course what we violently reject is not these questions of fact, but the very idea that there are any circumstances in which one has a right to get at, and shape, the characters and souls of other men for purposes which these men, if they realised what we were doing, might reject.

We distinguish to this extent between factual and value judgement--that we deny the right to tamper with human beings to an unlimited extent, whatever the truth about the laws of history; we might go further and deny the notion that "history" in some mysterious way "confers" upon us "rights" to do this or that; that some men or bodies of men can morally claim a right to our obedience because they, in some sense, carry out the behests of "history," are its chosen instrument, its medicine or scourge or in some important sense "Welthistorisch"--great, irresistible, riding the waves of the future, beyond our petty, subjective, not rationally bolsterable ideas of right and wrong. Many a German and I daresay many a Russian or Mongol or Chinese today feels that it is more adult to recognise the sheer immensity of the great events that shake the world, and play a part in history worthy of men by abandoning themselves to them, than by praising or damning and indulging in bourgeois moralisings: the notion that history must be applauded as such is the horrible German way out of the burden of moral choice.
- Sir Isaiah Berlin, "Letter to George Kennan" (2/13/51)
And coming soon to a theatre near you...
(Note - scenes above are from a film version started many years ago but was never completed)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Art Break

Pablo Picasso, "Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas)" (1901)
The cause of Picasso’s stylistic transformation is well documented. The suicide of his close friend Casagemas in 1901 deeply affected him, and he began to move towards a more reflective account of human existence. Paintings such as Absinthe Drinker (1901) explore the relationship between innocence and experience, purity and corruption. These themes found their expression in his large-scale Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas – 1901). The secular altar piece dominates the second room and depicts Casagemas ascending to heaven on a white stallion, surrounded by naked prostitutes, playful children, mourners and a Madonna and child. It is testament to Picasso’s genius that this piece, which challenged the conventions of religious art in the twentieth century, was produced when the artist was only 19 years old. The painting suggests the ambition and radical vision that Picasso was to invest into his work. It was this challenging and restless youthful energy that Picasso never lost...

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Post-Modern Slide into Totalitarianism

Dominance merges with Communality...and then encroaches upon Reciprocity to prevent formation of any Social Distance or Alienation.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Light in Babylon

(Speak)
Of sand and secrets
Fountain

Which is revealed among the sands
The fall of my youth
The outgoing
Dancing in the wind
Colors
And voices
Born from the desert
Even if the sky is white
Will rise
I will not sit or rest
My lips would not dry

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Ah, Life 2.0!

"The destructive character lives from the feeling, not that life is worth living, but that suicide is not worth the trouble."
--Walter Benjamin
---
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause. There's the respect
that makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
the Oppressor's wrong, the proud man's Contumely, [F: poor]
the pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [F: disprized]
the insolence of Office, and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his Quietus make
with a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, [F: these Fardels]
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovered country, from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
and thus the native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [F: pith]
with this regard their Currents turn awry, [F: away]
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remember'd
--William Shakespeare, "Hamlet"

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

On We Go!

The Fear of SIlence

I have not heard silence
more than in music

the hollow of a bell
the harmony of a singer
the puncturing of a drum

excavates a sanctuary
inside my skull, there I capture
strains of music that belong
to a realm without sound
desert where silence performs for silence

when I no longer have thirst
I will be able to stay there
a symphony of deafness will congregate
I will hear nothing
but the absence of myself
- Author Unknown

Monday, July 10, 2017

On Slavoj Zizek's "Violence"

The philosopher Slavoj Zizek enjoys a good joke. Here's one of my favourites: two men, having had a drink or two, go to the theatre, where they become thoroughly bored with the play. One feels a pressing need to urinate, so he tells his friend to mind his seat while he goes to find a toilet. "I think I saw one down the corridor outside," says his friend. The man wanders down the corridor, but finds no WC. Wandering further, he walks through a door and sees a plant pot. After copiously urinating into it, he returns to his seat. His friend says, "What a pity! You missed the best part. Some fellow just came on the stage and pissed in that plant pot."

This gag perfectly describes the argument of Zizek's new book on violence. Drunkenly watching the boring spectacle of the world stage, we might feel an overwhelming need to follow the call of nature somewhere discreet. Yet, in our bladder-straining self-interest, we lose sight of the objective reality of the play and our implication in its action. We are oblivious to the fact that we are pissing on stage for the world to see.

So it is with violence. Our subjective outrage at the facts of violence – a suicide bombing, a terrorist attack, the assassination of a political figure – blinds us to the objective violence of the world, a violence where we are perpetrators and not just innocent bystanders. All we see are apparently inexplicable acts that disturb the supposed peace of everyday life. We consistently overlook the objective or what Zizek calls "systemic" violence, endemic to our socio-economic order.

The main ambition of this book is to bring together subjective violence with the objective violence that is its underside and precondition. "Systemic violence is thus something like the notorious 'dark matter' of physics," Zizek writes: invisible to naked eye. Zizek offers a rather cool and at times cruel analysis of the varieties of objective violence. He asks tolerant multicultural Western liberals to suspend our outraged responses to acts of violence and turn instead to the real substance of the global situation. In order to understand violence, we need some good old-fashioned dispassionate materialist critique.

At the heart of Zizek's book is an argument about ideology that has been a powerful, constant feature of his work since he burst onto the intellectual scene in the late 1980s. Far from existing in some post-ideological world at the end of history where all problems can be diagnosed with neo-liberal economics and self-serving assertions of human rights, ideology completely structures our lived reality. This ideology might be subjectively invisible, but it is objectively real. Each of us is onstage, pissing in that plant pot. The great ideological illusion of the present is that there is no time to reflect and we have to act now. Zizek asks us to step back from the false urgency of the present with its multiple injunctions to intervene like good humanitarians.

His diagnosis of this ideology is quite delightful, producing counter-intuitive analyses that overturn what passes for common sense. Zizek rages against the reduction of love to masturbatory self-interest, the multiple hypocrisies of the Israel/Palestine conflict and the supposed liberal philanthropy of Bill Gates and George Soros. There is a fascinating analysis of the scenes of torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, which display, Zizek rightly contends, nothing more than the obscene underside of American culture.

But whither all this dialectical brio? Ay, there's the rub. Zizek concludes with an apology for what he calls, following Walter Benjamin, "divine violence". The latter is understood theoretically as "the heroic assumption of the solitude of the sovereign decision". Practically, Zizek illustrates this with the Jacobin violence of Robespierre in France in the 1790s and the invasion of the dispossessed, a decade or so ago, descending from the slum favelas in Rio de Janeiro to disturb the peace of bourgeois neighbourhoods. But, in a final twist, Zizek counsels us to do nothing in the face of the objective, systemic violence of the world. We should "just sit and wait" and have the courage to do nothing: "Sometimes, doing nothing is the most violent thing to do".

True enough, but what can this possibly mean? At the core of Zizek's relentless, indeed manic, production of books, articles and lectures is a fantasy, I think: what psychoanalysts would call an obsessional fantasy. On the one hand, the only authentic stance to take in dark times is to do nothing, to refuse all commitment, to be paralysed like Melville's Bartleby, the true hero of this book and others by Zizek. On the other hand, Zizek dreams of a divine violence, a cataclysmic, purifying violence of the sovereign ethical deed, something like that of Sophocles' Antigone.

But Shakespearean tragedy is a more illuminating guide here than its ancient Greek predecessor. For Zizek is a Slovenian Hamlet, utterly paralysed but dreaming of an avenging violent act for which, finally, he lacks the courage. In short, behind its shimmering inversions, Zizek's work leaves us in a fearful and fateful deadlock: the only thing to do is to do nothing. We should just sit and wait. As the great Dane says, "Readiness is all". But the truth is that Zizek is never ready. His work lingers in endless postponement and over-production. He ridicules others' attempts at thinking about commitment, resistance and action (we have crossed swords recently) while doing nothing himself. What sustains his work is a dream of divine violence, cruelty and force. I hope that one day his dreams come true.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Brighton Beach Blues

Because the people I love don't believe in heaven
we take the train to Brighton. Atlantic Avenue, Pacific Street. The ocean

is always the ocean, so we take the Q. Seventh Avenue, Prospect Park.
It's hard to explain. The tide rises, and we drink all the beer we brought.

Before the restaurants, before the boardwalk, crackheads slept in dunes
and girls turned tricks, or so we hear from a guy we met. He grew up here

and for a living now he installs in bars electric chandeliers. In these waves,
when he was young, his sister drowned, and because she's gone

he takes the Q to Brighton. Church Avenue, Beverly Road. We don't speak
the language spoken. At a loss to say what we mean, we take the Q

to get there. And because the sun dies in Brighton, we know the day
can end, and because the sky can't help but darken, we go home again

to Boerum Hill. Cortelyou Road, Avenue J. In these waves, one night,
one summer, I kissed someone. We walked through sands and bottle glass

so we could touch the ocean the way the water can't help but touch the land,
and in the end we couldn't help but touch, so we took the Q, that year,

to Brighton. I didn't believe in heaven. It's hard to explain. Take the train,
touch the sea, walk the sand. Kings Highway, Sheepshead Bay.

Along the shore lie those who know there is no heaven, and no answers
to our questions, and that ships leaving piers look like distant chandeliers.
- Sarah V. Schweig, "Brighton Beach"

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Resist the Hubris of Media Driving Elites!

Does Neil Young realize that he's not a regular Joe, that he's an elite fighting to preserve the "powers that be"?

Sunday, July 2, 2017

External Authority Begins Where Internal Enjoyment Ends...

After the secret agent Louis Bernard is shot, in the 1934 version of Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, his English acquaintance Bob Lawrence hastens to pass Bernard’s message containing vital political intelligence to the British consul in St Moritz. (In the 1956 remake James Stewart will take over this role as Dr McKenna.) He accosts the gendarme in the local police station asking him in English if the British consul is ‘here’. The Italian-speaking gendarme however keeps translating this here as the German Herr, losing Lawrence precious time – precisely the time that it takes the international terrorists to kidnap the Lawrences’ child and thus secure the parents’ silence. This triggers off all that subsequently emerges as the story of the film. The episode captures succinctly an important aspect of Hitchcock’s cinema: if the here of his films indeed never fails to invoke law, norm and authority (Herrschaft?), this happens only at the expense of the norm not coinciding withwhat the film organises as its here. Therein lies also Hitchcock’s appeal to readings in the vein of Lacanian psychoanalysis, notably to Slavoj Zizek. In Zizek, Hitchcock’s cinema is a privileged point of access not merely to Lacan’s take onFreud and the project of psychoanalysis, but to the overall engagement of Lacanian psychoanalysis with philosophy. Incidentally, it is in the chapter in which he focuses on the 1956 version of The Man Who Knew Too Much that Zizek touches on this positionality. He comments that the Cartesian God (the Cartesian Herrschaft) is ‘the correlate of the cogito’, which in turn is ‘none other than Lacan’s “big Other”, the place of the supposed symbolic knowledge’, also the place of law. And then continues: ‘Cogito ergo sum is thus to be translated as: I think where enjoyment was evacuated’ (1992a: 127). Of course: if I think where enjoyment is evacuated, and the ego with its here is by definition contaminated with enjoyment, then the ego cannot but invoke the law, but always at the expense of the law not coinciding with what the ego organises as its here.

If the above scene from The Man Who Knew Too Much demonstrates the logic of Hitchcock’s appeal to Lacanian readings, it captures as aptly the figure Zizek cuts for critical theory. Zizek is not merely renowned internationally for his work on the junctures of philosophy and psychoanalysis, cast against political theory; he has also come to constitute what defines critical theory today. He therefore participates in what critical theory organises as authority, to the extent that critics are now referring to the ‘Zizekification’ of Lacan (see Zizek et al., 2010: 418). It is for this reason that Zizek organises a point of access to what constitutes the logic of the international today and to how the international is constructed for and in recent critical writing. In order to provide such access however he needs to remain exempt from any particular here, even though it is only from a here that this Herrschaft can be summoned. Further, his massive work has by now registered shifts of accent and perspective. Consequently, one cannot approach it synoptically, in a single take. This is true of most herrschaftlich figures in critical theory; Zizek points out that Lacan too registers similar shifts and departures (Zizek et al., 2010: 419). One therefore cannot engage with the Lacanian – or the Zizekian – view of fatherhood, symptom or the symbolic unless one relinquishes synoptic ambitions and an aspiration to panopticise the knowledge of psychoanalysis, which in turn displaces authority from man onto knowledge stripped of the vestiges of the auctorial. Once again the herrschaft-lich (the authoritative) emerges as that which is not here or else as that which cannot be figured (out) as here.

This of course reflects the propositions of the quoted Hitchcock scene, but in yet another way. As Zizek underlines, The Man Who Knew Too Much is, alongside Saboteur and North-by-Northwest, a remake. He argues though that there is no proper way to remake a Hitchcock film, because the narratives may be similar, but ‘the underlying libidinal economy is wholly different in each of the subsequent remakes, as if the sameness serves the purpose of marking the Difference’ (2004a:268).

Still, one could argue that, by remaking The Man Who Knew Too Much, Hitchcock assembles around these two films the position which effectively precludes that the knowledge of film be derived from any cinematic here, any one version, even though it is only from a here that knowledge and authority can be summoned. On the one hand, this means that Hitchcock’s cinema itself reflects the narrative predicament of Bob Lawrence, even that the story of The Man Who Knew Too Much is the specimen story of the Hitchcock cinema, the way the story of Oedipus, as Felman puts it, is the specimen story of psychoanalysis (Felman, 1983). On the other, insofar as Hitchcock’s cinema betrays the same Oedipal value for Zizek, The Man Who Knew Too Much emerges as the privileged point of access for analysing Zizek. After all, when calling for the detection of Lacanian sinthoms in Hitchcock – of formulae which fix ‘a certain core of enjoyment, like mannerisms in painting’ – Zizek claims that ‘[t]he first version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) is perhaps the film which most directly calls for such a reading’ (1992b: 126, 127).
- Tatjana Jukic, " The Man WHo Knew Too Much: Zizek and the Balkans"

Saturday, July 1, 2017

In Praise of "Deep State" Socialism

"The problem with Stalin's bureaucracy is that it wasn't bureaucratic enough!"

How to Organize a Left-Wing Coup...

Have and widely communicate a 5-Step coup plan to take advantage of the next crises, but justify your coup planning on the moral inadequacy of the existing government. Make sure that your followers believe that ANY opposition they might meet in resisting the 5-Step coup is evidence of nefarious intent by the existing government to establish an authoritarian dictatorship.

The parasitic Left impatiently await's it's next opportunity to usurp a crisis...

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Essences

The dialectical approach is usually seen as trying to locate the phenomenon-to-be-analyzed in the totality to which it belongs, to bring the wealth of its links to light, and thus to break the spell of fetishizing abstraction: from a dialectical perspective, one should see not just the thing in front of one, but this thing as it is embedded in all the wealth of its concrete historical context. This, however, is the most dangerous trap to be avoided: for Hegel, the true problem is the opposite one, the fact that, when we observe a thing, we see too much of it, we fall under the spell of the wealth of empirical detail, which prevents us from clearly perceiving the notional determination that forms the core of the thing. The problem is thus not that of how to grasp the wealth of determinations, but, precisely, how to abstract from them, how to constrain our gaze and teach it to grasp only the notional determination. We should thus totally reject the pseudo-Hegelian commonplace according to which the Understanding deals with simplified abstractions, while Reason understands things in all their complexity, in the endless intricacy of their mutual relations which only makes them what they are.

Another commonplace tells us that, when engaged in a struggle, we automatically adopt a partial or particular standpoint, while the universal standpoint has to be elevated above the melee of passionate commitments. Hegel's authentic position inverts both these commonplaces: it is the Understanding that insists on the endless complexity of a situation, always pointing out that things are more complicated then they appear ("on the other hand..."), while Reason is the power to simplify, to isolate the essential feature, the one which really matters in a complex situation. Furthermore, this isolation does not emerge out of a distanced"objective" analysis, but through our engaged ("partial") approach to reality. It was Heidegger who elaborated this feature apropos language when, in his reading of "essence or Wessen" as a verb ("essencing"), he provided a de-essentialized notion of essence. Traditionally, "essence" refers to a stable core that guarantees the identity of a thing. For Heidegger, "essence" is something that depends on the historical context, on the epochal disclosure of being that occurs in and through language, the "house of being." His expression "Wessen der Sprache" does not mean the "essence of language" but the "essencing," the making of essences that is the work of language.
language bringing things into their essence, language "moving us" so that things matter to us in a particular kind of way, so that paths are made within which we can move among entities, and so that entities can bear on each other as the entities they are... We share an ordinary language when the world is articulated in the same style for us, when we "listen to language," when we "let it say its saying to us."
For a medieval Christian, say, the "essence" of gold resides in its incorruptibility and sheen, which made it a "divine" metal. For us, it is either a flexible resource to be used for industrial purposes or a metal appropriate for aestheic purposes. For Catholics, similarly, the castrato voice was once the very voice of the angels prior to the Fall. For us today, it is a monstrosity. This change in our sensitivity is sustained by language, hinging on a shift in our symbolic universe. A fundamental violence inhabits this "essencing" ability of language: our world is given a partial twist, it loses its balanced innocence, one partial color gives the tone of the Whole.

Hegel's formulation is very precise here: the reduction to signifying "unary feature" contracts actual;ity to possibility, in the precise Platonic sense in which the notion (Idea) of a thing always has a deontological dimension to it, designating what the thing should become in order to be fully what it is. "Potentiality" is thus not simply the name for the essence of a thing as actualized in the multitude of empirical things of this genre (the idea of a chair as a potentiality actualized in empirical chairs). The multitude of the actual properties of a thing is not simply reduced to the inner core of this thing's "true reality"; what is important is that it accentuates (profiles) the thing's inner potential. When I call someone "my teacher," I thereby outline the horizon of what I expect from him; when I refer to a thing as "a chair," I profile the way I intend to use it. When I observe the world around me through the lenses of a language, I perceive its actuality through the lenses of the potentialities hidden, latently present, within it. In other words, potentiality appears "as such," becomes actual as potentiality, only through language: it is the appellation of a thing that brings to light ("posits") its potentials. In short, impartial observation gets caught up in the "bad infinity" of complex features, without being able to decide on the essentials, and the only way to arrive at true universality is by way of reasoning that is sustained by practical engagement.
- Slavoj Ziziek, "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism"

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Quantum Knowing

This paradoxical status of the knowledge of the Other enables us to draw out another feature of the distinction between what Badiou calls (hedonist) "democratic" materialism and dialectical materialism. For standard materialism, things exist independently of our knowledge of them; for subjectivist idealism, esse=percipi, i.e., things exist only insofar as they are known or perceived by a mind, as perfectly formulated in the famous Berkeleyan limerick on "God in the Quad" (a courtyard on a campus):
There was a young man who said, "God
Must find it exceedingly odd
To think that the tree
Should continue to be
When there's no one about in the quad."

To which God replies:

Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd;
I am always about in the quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be
Since observed by, Your faithfully God.
Note here the formal similarity with quantum physics, in which some kind of perception (or registration)_ is needed to bring about the collapse of the wave function, i.e., the emergence of reality. However, this similarity masks the fundamental difference: the agency which registers the collapse of the wave function is not in any sense "creating" the observed reality, it is registering an outcome that remains fully contingent. Furthermore, the whole point of quantum physics is that many things go on before registration: in this shadowy space, the "normal" laws of nature are continuously suspended. The theological implications of this gap between virtual proto-reality and the fully constituted form are of a special interest. Insofar as "God" is the agent who creates things by observing them, quantum indeterminancy compels us to posit a god who is omnipotent, but not omniscient: "If God collapses the wave functions of large things to reality by His observation, quantuum experiments indicate that He is not observing the small." The ontological cheating with virtual particles (an electron casn create a proton and thereby violate the principle of constant energy, on condition that it reabsorbs it before its environs "take note" of the discrepancy) is a way to cheat God Himself, the ultimate agency taking note of everything that goes on: God Himself does not control the quantum processes; therein resides the atheist lesson of quantum physics. Einstein was right with his famous claim "God doesn't cheat" - but what he forgot to add is that "God is unconscious" (God does not know), quantum physics is indeed materialist: there are micro-processes (quantum oscillations) which are not registered by the God-system.
- Slavoj Zizek, "Absolute Recoil: Towards a New Foundation of Dialectical Materialism"

Monday, June 26, 2017

Slavoj Žižek, "About Peter Sloterdijk: The revolution takes place, only differently "

from the Zizek Times
Peter Sloterdijk is one of the most accurate diagnosticians of our time. In his work "Wrath and Time", he offers an alternative history of the West as a starting point from the distinction between Eros (desire, ie, the desire to possess, ie the possession of objects) and thymos (pride, thus giving-will) History of anger administration. The "Iliad", its founding text, begins in fact with the word "anger." Homer calls the goddess to stand by him when he sing the song of the anger of Achilles. Although the quarrel between Achilles and Agamemnon concerns a woman - Agamemnon robbed Achilles of his slave girl Briseis - it is not about the loss of an erotic object, but about injured pride. And that is Sloterdijk's point.

While anger can explode in ancient Greece, he experiences a profound change, a sublimation, a postponement in the Jewish-Christian tradition. No longer we, but God is keeping a record of our transgressions, and decides on the Day of Judgment. The Christian prohibition of revenge is the exact counterpart to the apocalyptic scene of the last days. The idea of ​​a Last Judgment, in which all the accumulated debts are paid off and a world out of joint is corrected, lives in secularized form in modern leftist projects.

Now the judge is no longer God but the people. Left political movements in fact act like anger banks. They collect collective anger investment and, in turn, promise the people long-term revenge interest, thus establishing a more just world. Because, after the revolutionary anger explosion, the ultimate payment never takes place, and inequality and hierarchy always reappear, there is always an urge for the second - true, total - revolution. It is only to satisfy the disappointed and to bring the liberation to an end: in 1792 after 1789, October after February 1917.

And the revolution?

This leads us to the great problem of Western Marxism today: the absence of a revolutionary subject. Who can take the role of the proletarians? In the Third World, students and intellectuals, the excluded are presented. In the meantime, the refugees are to revive the European left, free according to the motto: If there is no real proletariat at this stage, the revolution is just being transferred to imported substitute subjects. This way of thinking is cynical through and through. It bears witness to a leftist paternalism, quite apart from the fact that it gives new impetus to the violence against immigrants.

The problem is that there is simply never enough spontaneous anger capital - so the leaders have been borrowed from other anger banks by the nation and the culture. In Fascism, the national anger prevailed, Mao mobilized in China's communism the cultural anger of the exploited peasants. In our time there are two main types of anger left: the anger of the Islamic modernist losers against capitalism as a decadent system, and the wrath of the right-wing populists, which is aimed at immigrants. In addition to this, Latin American populists, consumerists and other representatives are less resentful of the resentment that refuses to recognize globalization. The only thing that is clear here is: the situation is confusing, all the different forms of anger do not come together.

Sloterdijk now recommends overcoming resentment and renouncing a revolution, which never happens anyway. He is concerned to delegitimize the connection between intelligence and resentment in all its forms, including feminism and post-colonialism. In capitalism, he sees not only the problem, but also the solution - Sloterdijk pleads for a turn of capitalism against itself: Instead of accumulating still more wealth and consequently fearing the loss of the wealthy lifestyle, the inhabitants of the Western Crystal Palace As proud beings who rather give than take. This would be, so to speak, Sloterdijk's cultural revolution without a revolution. But is she really realistic - and more than a philosophical imagination?

Capitalism, according to Sloterdijk, is therefore capable of effecting a change from Eros to Thymos, from the perverse erotic logic of accumulation to public recognition and honor. If you think so, you must inevitably praise figures like Soros or Gates. In this optic, their charity is not merely a personal idiosyncracy; On the contrary, the new capitalists are supposed to work towards a new balance of welfare through their willingness to donate, without obeying the destructive logic of resentment and forced state redistribution. We must, therefore, learn to live in a meritocracy which respects civilized norms and personal rights, in a balance between elitism and egalitarianism.

But is Sloterdijk really a reason for his denunciation of any global emancipatory project as a case of envy and resentment? What if his urge to sense revenge and anger behind every form of solidarity is itself an expression of revenge and resentment? His envy dims the view that there is indeed a position of ethical universality that applies to all people. And which exerts its own fascination on more and more young people.

Corbyn shall judge

Jeremy Corbyn, this dry, impish British labor leader, represents precisely such an attitude - with success. From the establishment, he is regarded as an idiot, a jihadist, an anti-Semitic, in short, as an unseemable, but this does not touch him, he remains faithful to himself. Of course, Corbyn is a nuisance - and yes, with his position of global solidarity and justice, he will prevent Labor in the foreseeable future from winning the majority in Great Britain. But that is not the point. For Corbyn represents the actor of a radical social change for the boys beyond the British Isles. Corbyn is an eminent representative of those who are serious about an ethical turn in politics - and the vulgarization of political speech in public turn. Propriety and argument were once bourgeois virtues, but these were long ago betrayed by the populist bourgeoisie. Now it seems to be on the left, to demand exactly these virtues by the fact that they live the same way.

Corbyn, however desperate and naive he appears, speaks of the important problems that ordinary people deal with, from economic necessities to the threat of terrorists. He is politically incorrect, not self-righteous, not off-hand, no blender - and above all, he speaks without anger and resentment. His performances are worthy, he preserves a basic decree. It is precisely because he acts like a politician from another time, that he is well received by the boys. Would Sloterdijk be prepared to recognize, in the success of figures like Jeremy Corbyn, the expression of a new social force that is not just beyond capitalist logic, but also beyond anger and resentment? We older men should remain attentive. I wish Peter Sloterdijk all the best for his 70th birthday.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Does Capitalism Depend Upon Envy?

We hold these truths to be sacred & undeniable; that all men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness; ...
- Thomas Jefferson, "U.S. Declaration of Independence" (rough draft)

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Opening Iris...

Philip Hermogenes Calderon, "Broken Vows" (1857)
The title of this painting suggests that the woman has recently discovered that her lover, whose initials are carved in the fence, has been unfaithful. Further details, including the discarded necklace and dying flowers, indicate her unhappy situation. The ivy-covered wall may symbolise her previous belief that their love was everlasting. Disappointed love was a popular theme in Victorian painting, and viewers were expected to unravel the situation from the symbols and expressions of the characters.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Sunday, June 18, 2017

From Tragedy to Farce...

Nationalists Versus Communists

The brawls (Berkely) seem like a half-hearted, semi-play-acting reenactment of the street fights of Germany’s Spartacist uprising of 1919. The “Spartacists” were Marxist insurgents who sought to overthrow the new Weimar government, take power themselves, and expropriate the bourgeoisie. The government, which itself was made up of milder Marxists, relied on nationalist militias called Freikorps to crush the uprising. Then, as yesterday, nationalists trounced communists in the streets. Yet this did not yield a happy ending.

As Ludwig von Mises points out in Omnipotent Government, when the Freikorps first arose, they were modeled after the armed bands of communist revolutionaries that they would later suppress.
“The November Revolution brought a resurgence of a phenomenon that had long before disappeared from German history. Military adventurers formed armed bands or Freikorps and acted on their own behalf. The communist revolutionaries had inaugurated this method, but soon the nationalists adopted and perfected it. Dismissed officers of the old army called together demobilized soldiers and maladjusted boys and offered their protection to the peasants menaced by raids of starving townsfolk and to the population of the eastern frontiers suffering from Polish and Lithuanian guerrilla invasions. The landlords and the farmers provided them in return for their services with food and shelter.”
The Freikorps, like today’s budding right-wing street militias, arose in response to leftist aggression. That didn’t make them any less dangerous. Mises continued:
“When the condition which had made their interference appear useful changed these gangs began to blackmail and to extort money from landowners, businessmen, and other wealthy people. They became a public calamity. The government did not dare to dissolve them. Some of the bands had fought bravely against the communists. Others had successfully defended the eastern provinces against the Poles and Lithuanians. They boasted of these achievements, and the nationalist youth did not conceal their sympathy for them.”
The Road to Nuremberg

These Freikorps were then integrated into the army, and the problem of rival armed bands subsided for a while, although it did not disappear. As Mises wrote:
“War and civil war, and the revolutionary mentality of the Marxians and of the nationalists, had created such a spirit of brutality that the political parties gave their organizations a military character. Both the nationalist Right and the Marxian Left had their armed forces. These party troops were, of course, entirely different “from the free corps formed by nationalist hotspurs and by communist radicals. Their members were people who had their regular jobs and were busy from Monday to Saturday noon. On weekends they would don their uniforms and parade with brass bands, flags, and often with their firearms. They were proud of their membership in these associations but they were not eager to fight; they were not animated by a spirit of aggression. Their existence, their parades, their boasting, and the challenging speeches of their chiefs were a nuisance but not a serious menace to domestic peace.

After the failure of the revolutionary attempts of Kapp in March, 1920, that of Hitler and Ludendorff in November, 1923, and of various communist uprisings, of which the most important was the Holz riot in March, 1921, Germany was on the way back to normal conditions. The free corps and the communist gangs began slowly to disappear from the political stage. They still waged some guerrilla warfare with each other and against the police. But these fights degenerated more and more into gangsterism and rowdyism. Such riots and the plots of a few adventurers could not endanger the stability of the social order.”
But then, feeling threatened by the continued existence and activity of nationalist armed bands, the embattled socialist government created a new armed force consisting of loyal Marxists. As Mises explains, this caused many in the public to throw their support behind Adolf Hitler’s personal militia, the Nazi Storm Troopers.
“But these Storm Troopers were very different from the other armed party forces both of the Left and of the Right. Their members were not elderly men who had fought in the first World War and who now were eager to hold their jobs in order to support their families. The Nazi Storm Troopers were, as the free corps had been, jobless boys who made a living from their fighting. They were available at every hour of every day, not merely on weekends and holidays. It was doubtful whether the party forces—either of “the Left or the Right—would be ready to fight when seriously attacked. It was certain that they would never be ready to wage a campaign of aggression. But Hitler’s troops were pugnacious; they were professional brawlers. They would have fought for their Führer in a bloody civil war if the opponents of Nazism had not yielded without resistance in 1933.”
And the rest is History Channel programming. Once in power, the nationalist brawlers proved to be just as deadly foes to liberty as the communists they trounced in the streets and drove from power.
Source

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Birth of a Backlash...

How Deplorable!
from Wikipedia
The Gamergate controversy concerns issues of sexism and progressivism in video game culture, stemming from a harassment campaign conducted primarily through the use of the hashtag #GamerGate. Gamergate is used as a blanket term for the controversy, the harassment campaign and actions of those participating in it, and the loosely organized movement that emerged around the hashtag.

Beginning in August 2014, supporters of the Gamergate movement targeted several women in the video game industry, including game developers Zoë Quinn and Brianna Wu, as well as feminist media critic Anita Sarkeesian. After Eron Gjoni, Quinn's former boyfriend, wrote a disparaging blog post about her, #gamergate hashtag users falsely accused Quinn of an unethical relationship with journalist Nathan Grayson. Harassment campaigns against Quinn and others included doxing, threats of rape, and death threats. Gamergate supporters claimed unethical collusion between the press and feminists, progressives, and social critics. These concerns have been dismissed by commentators as trivial, conspiracy theories, groundless, or unrelated to actual issues of ethics.

Gamergate supporters typically organized on online platforms which allow anonymous or pseudonymous communication; these platforms include 4chan, Internet Relay Chat, Twitter and Reddit. Gamergate has no official leaders, spokespeople, or manifesto. Statements claiming to represent Gamergate have been inconsistent and contradictory, making it difficult for commentators to identify goals and motives. As a result, Gamergate has often been defined by the harassment its supporters committed. Gamergate supporters have frequently responded to this by denying that the harassment took place or by falsely claiming that it was manufactured by the victims.

The controversy has been described as a manifestation of a culture war over cultural diversification, artistic recognition, and social criticism in video games, and over the social identity of gamers. Many supporters of Gamergate oppose what they view as the increasing influence of feminism on video game culture; as a result, Gamergate is often viewed as a right-wing backlash against progressivism.

Industry responses to Gamergate have been predominantly negative. Gamergate has led figures both inside and outside the industry to focus on better methods of tackling online harassment
.

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Message from the Sh*t Lord to All Sh*t Posters...

from Catholic On-line
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) -- Pope Francis has made a statement, criticizing the media for its obsession with fake news and smut, all intended to generate clicks, and ad revenues. The problem with the obsession is that the public is starved of the truth and accurate information.

Pope Francis criticized the media for having "the disease of coprophilia: constantly looking to communicate scandal, communicate ugly things, even if they are true... And since people have a tendency towards coprophagy, it can be very damaging,"

Coprophilia is the love of feces, usually to the point of consumption.

If the term is revolting, it's intentional. The practice is revolting.

By removing a portion of the truth, the media is able to misdirect the public and inflame scandal. Lies can be destroyed as the media peddles divorce, adultery and infidelity, and every other kind of smut.

How many publications sell because they publish pictures of women's mostly nude bodies? Even teenage girls are vulnerable to this kind of exploitation. Many celebrities cannot enjoy a day at the beach without becoming the object of a photographer's lust. At the same time, mature individuals become objects of revulsion as the media hypes their weight, or their illnesses, or some other aspect of their life. All while ignoring the person's better character, and worse, ignoring the real news of the day.

With limited time for people to consume headlines, every story about Kanye West is less space for reporting on government scandals that deprive taxpayers of billions of dollars. There's less room for reporting facts and providing the public with the information they require to make smart decisions.

So much money is wasted by our government that if it were saved, it could end both homelessness ($20 billion, and hunger ($30 billion) overnight. The most conservative estimate of government waste is about $125 billion per year.

Public anger is often wasted on celebrity scandals and political slander. The real issues are lost.

Pope Francis criticized media 'calumny', which is to tell a lie about another person.

He said this of people's pasts, and it's very important because many people have made mistakes: "every person has the right to a good name, but perhaps in their previous life, or in their past life, or 10 years ago, had a problem with the law or in his family life...so, bringing this into the spotlight is grave, it damages, it cancels a person."

He spoke about the habit of bringing out what people did in their past to damage them, even after they have repented and paid their debt.

"Journalists sometimes risk becoming ill from coprophilia and thus encouraging coprophagia," he said. "Which is a sin that taints all men and women, that is, the tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive aspects."

Of course, the media alone is not to blame. While Pope Francis focused on the media, we too share culpability. Our choice to read smut over real news is a major reason why media outlets continue to degrade and publish garbage instead of real news. We have an obligation to consume media intelligently, and to insist upon accurate news, not smut. Otherwise, we become consumers of our own excrement.
The Internet was designed for sh*t posting!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Afterimages

Władysław Strzemiński , "Pejzaz Lodzki (Paysage of Lodz)" (1931-2)

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Falling

I hear a storm is coming in tonight
and they say it's going to be the worst
so pack your bags and try to leave
or hold on to what is dear and make amends

The sun will finally turn away
as if she's given up her hopes for us
after all the chances that we've thrown
for the diamonds that we long to own

Now all the rain is gonna sober up our drunken minds
and the winds are gonna bring us closer though all too late
and the fire's gonna take away everything that has brought us here
When we fall

I hope that time is on our side,
that the prophets have been wrong from the start,
that war's an oddity,
and that you and I are here to stay

But nations rise and fall all the time
it seems to be the conqueror's fate
still we believe we are the ones
who will outlive all the others who have not.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Timshel 2

1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. #Cain: that is, Gotten, or, Acquired

2 And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. #Abel: Heb. Hebel#a keeper: Heb. a feeder

3 And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. #in process…: Heb. at the end of days

4 And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: #flock: Heb. sheep, or, goats

5 But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.

6 And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen?

7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. #be accepted: or, have the excellency #unto…: or, subject unto thee

8 And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

9 And the Lord said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper?

10 And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.#blood: Heb. bloods

11 And now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand;

12 When thou tillest the ground, it shall not henceforth yield unto thee her strength; a fugitive and a vagabond shalt thou be in the earth.

13 And Cain said unto the Lord, My punishment is greater than I can bear.#My…: or, Mine iniquity is greater than that it may be forgiven

14 Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me.

15 And the Lord said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

16 And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden.
Genesis, Chapter 4
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“Do you remember when you read us the sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis and we argued about them?”

“I do indeed. And that’s a long time ago.”

“Ten years nearly,” said Lee. “Well, the story bit deeply into me and I went into it word for word. The more I thought about the story, the more profound it became to me. Then I compared the translations we have—and they were fairly close. There was only one place that bothered me. The King James version says this—it is when Jehovah has asked Cain why he is angry. Jehovah says, ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.’ It was the ‘thou shalt’ that struck me, because it was a promise that Cain would conquer sin.”

Samuel nodded. “And his children didn’t do it entirely,” he said.

Lee sipped his coffee. “Then I got a copy of the American Standard Bible. It was very new then. And it was different in this passage. It says, ‘Do thou rule over him.’ Now this is very different. This is not a promise, it is an order. And I began to stew about it. I wondered what the original word of the original writer had been that these very different translations could be made.”

Samuel put his palms down on the table and leaned forward and the old young light came into his eyes. “Lee,” he said, “don’t tell me you studied Hebrew!”

Lee said, “I’m going to tell you. And it’s a fairly long story. Will you have a touch of ng-ka-py?”

“You mean the drink that tastes of good rotten apples?”

“Yes. I can talk better with it.”

“Maybe I can listen better,” said Samuel.

While Lee went to the kitchen Samuel asked, “Adam, did you know about this?”

“No,” said Adam. “He didn’t tell me. Maybe I wasn’t listening.”

Lee came back with his stone bottle and three little porcelain cups so thin and delicate that the light shone through them. “Dlinkee Chinee fashion,” he said and poured the almost black liquor. “There’s a lot of wormwood in this. It’s quite a drink,” he said. “Has about the same effect as absinthe if you drink enough of it.”

Samuel sipped the drink. “I want to know why you were so interested,” he said.

“Well, it seemed to me that the man who could conceive this great story would know exactly what he wanted to say and there would be no confusion in his statement.”

“You say ‘the man.’ Do you then not think this is a divine book written by the inky finger of God?”

“I think the mind that could think this story was a curiously divine mind. We have had a few such minds in China too.”

“I just wanted to know,” said Samuel. “You’re not a Presbyterian after all.”

“I told you I was getting more Chinese. Well, to go on, I went to San Francisco to the headquarters of our family association. Do you know about them? Our great families have centers where any member can get help or give it. The Lee family is very large. It takes care of its own.”

“I have heard of them,” said Samuel.

“You mean Chinee hatchet man fightee Tong war over slave girl?”

“I guess so.”

“It’s a little different from that, really,” said Lee. “I went there because in our family there are a number of ancient reverend gentlemen who are great scholars. They are thinkers in exactness. A man may spend many years pondering a sentence of the scholar you call Confucius. I thought there might be experts in meaning who could advise me.

“They are fine old men. They smoke their two pipes of opium in the afternoon and it rests and sharpens them, and they sit through the night and their minds are wonderful. I guess no other people have been able to use opium well.”

Lee dampened his tongue in the black brew. “I respectfully submitted my problem to one of these sages, read him the story, and told him what I understood from it. The next night four of them met and called me in. We discussed the story all night long.”

Lee laughed. “I guess it’s funny,” he said. “I know I wouldn’t dare tell it to many people. Can you imagine four old gentlemen, the youngest is over ninety now, taking on the study of Hebrew? They engaged a learned rabbi. They took to the study as though they were children. Exercise books, grammar, vocabulary, simple sentences. You should see Hebrew written in Chinese ink with a brush! The right to left didn’t bother them as much as it would you, since we write up to down. Oh, they were perfectionists! They went to the root of the matter.”

“And you?” said Samuel.

“I went along with them, marveling at the beauty of their proud clean brains. I began to love my race, and for the first time I wanted to be Chinese. Every two weeks I went to a meeting with them, and in my room here I covered pages with writing. I bought every known Hebrew dictionary. But the old gentlemen were always ahead of me. It wasn’t long before they were ahead of our rabbi; he brought a colleague in. Mr. Hamilton, you should have sat through some of those nights of argument and discussion. The questions, the inspection, oh, the lovely thinking—the beautiful thinking.

“After two years we felt that we could approach your sixteen verses of the fourth chapter of Genesis. My old gentlemen felt that these words were very important too—‘Thou shalt’ and ‘Do thou.’ And this was the gold from our mining: ‘Thou mayest.’ ‘Thou mayest rule over sin.’ The old gentlemen smiled and nodded and felt the years were well spent. It brought them out of their Chinese shells too, and right now they are studying Greek.”

Samuel said, “It’s a fantastic story. And I’ve tried to follow and maybe I’ve missed somewhere. Why is this word so important?”

Lee’s hand shook as he filled the delicate cups. He drank his down in one gulp. “Don’t you see?” he cried. “The American Standard translation orders men to triumph over sin, and you can call sin ignorance. The King James translation makes a promise in ‘Thou shalt,’ meaning that men will surely triumph over sin. But the Hebrew word, the word timshel—‘Thou mayest’— that gives a choice. It might be the most important word in the world. That says the way is open. That throws it right back on a man. For if ‘Thou mayest’—it is also true that ‘Thou mayest not.’ Don’t you see?”

“Yes, I see. I do see. But you do not believe this is divine law. Why do you feel its importance?”

“Ah!” said Lee. “I’ve wanted to tell you this for a long time. I even anticipated your questions and I am well prepared. Any writing which has influenced the thinking and the lives of innumerable people is important. Now, there are many millions in their sects and churches who feel the order, ‘Do thou,’ and throw their weight into obedience. And there are millions more who feel predestination in ‘Thou shalt.’ Nothing they may do can interfere with what will be. But ‘Thou mayest’! Why, that makes a man great, that gives him stature with the gods, for in his weakness and his filth and his murder of his brother he has still the great choice. He can choose his course and fight it through and win.” Lee’s voice was a chant of triumph.

Adam said, “Do you believe that, Lee?”

“Yes, I do. Yes, I do. It is easy out of laziness, out of weakness, to throw oneself into the lap of deity, saying, ‘I couldn’t help it; the way was set.’ But think of the glory of the choice! That makes a man a man. A cat has no choice, a bee must make honey. There’s no godliness there. And do you know, those old gentlemen who were sliding gently down to death are too interested to die now?”

Adam said, “Do you mean these Chinese men believe the Old Testament?”

Lee said, “These old men believe a true story, and they know a true story when they hear it. They are critics of truth. They know that these sixteen verses are a history of humankind in any age or culture or race. They do not believe a man writes fifteen and three-quarter verses of truth and tells a lie with one verb. Confucius tells men how they should live to have good and successful lives. But this—this is a ladder to climb to the stars.” Lee’s eyes shone. “You can never lose that. It cuts the feet from under weakness and cowardliness and laziness.”

Adam said, “I don’t see how you could cook and raise the boys and take care of me and still do all this.”

“Neither do I,” said Lee. “But I take my two pipes in the afternoon, no more and no less, like the elders. And I feel that I am a man. And I feel that a man is a very important thing—maybe more important than a star. This is not theology. I have no bent toward gods. But I have a new love for that glittering instrument, the human soul. It is a lovely and unique thing in the universe. It is always attacked and never destroyed— because ‘Thou mayest.’”
- John Steinbeck, "East of Eden"

Friday, June 2, 2017