Monday, December 30, 2013
Friday, December 27, 2013
Thursday, December 26, 2013
Black clouds blind us
Although death and pain await us
Against the enemy we must go
The most precious good
And we have to defend it
With courage and faith
Raise the revolutionary flag
Moving us forward with unstoppable triumph
Working people march onwards to the battle
We have to smash the reaction
To the Barricades
To the Barricades
For the triumph
of the Confederation
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Thursday, December 19, 2013
- Amy H., Wichita, KS
It is the American Dream
What we all strive for and imagine
Indouble-wide trailers to double-wide mansions
In sprouting lakes of fake fish.
Nothing captures its essence
Unbound by time or dust or rot
The things we cherish still are lovingly patted
And brought through the centuries.
It is more than a dream now
It's a reality that the millions have made
Our heart and soul builds the heaven on earth.
A refuge for the sick,
And a shelter for the needy,
It is everything we desire.
In the cherry trucks and laughing children
To indolent teenagers with smoke circling
We see our dream and the actuality
It may not be perfect, but it is our heaven
And so disillusioned we conjure forth our hope.
In the picket fences we see our childhood
In the sky we see our adulthood
And in the middle we see our life.
Suspended, but not contained,
It is the dream that wakes within us all
Saturday, December 14, 2013
On March 10, 1914, the suffragette Mary Richardson walked into the National Gallery and attacked Velázquez's canvas with a meat cleaver. Her action was ostensibly provoked by the arrest of fellow suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst the previous day, although there had been earlier warnings of a planned suffragette attack on the collection. Richardson left seven slashes on the painting, particularly causing damage to the area between the figure's shoulders. However, all were successfully repaired by the National Gallery's chief restorer Helmut Ruhemann.
Damage sustained in the attack by Mary Richardson in 1914. The canvas was later restored and the incisions repaired. The breaks visible in this photograph, above her shoulder and horizontally across the upper left of the image, were to the glass only.
Richardson was sentenced to six months' imprisonment, the maximum allowed for destruction of an artwork. In a statement to the Women's Social and Political Union shortly afterwards, Richardson explained, "I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history." She added in a 1952 interview that she didn't like "the way men visitors gaped at it all day long".
The feminist writer Lynda Nead observed, "The incident has come to symbolize a particular perception of feminist attitudes towards the female nude; in a sense, it has come to represent a specific stereotypical image of feminism more generally." Contemporary reports of the incident reveal that the picture was not widely seen as mere artwork. Journalists tended to assess the attack in terms of a murder (Richardson was nicknamed "Slasher Mary"), and used words that conjured wounds inflicted on an actual female body, rather than on a pictorial representation of a female body. The Times, in an article that contained factual inaccuracies as to the painting's provenance, described a "cruel wound in the neck", as well as incisions to the shoulders and back.
Were you to cross the world, my dear,
To work or love or fight,
I could be calm and wistful here,
And close my eyes at night.
It were a sweet and gallant pain
To be a sea apart;
But, oh, to have you down the lane
Is bitter to my heart.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
The Pervert imagines him-/herself to be the Other in order to ensure his/her jouissance. The perverse subject makes him-/herself the instrument of the Other's jouissance through putting the object a in the place of the barred Other, negating the Other as subject. His/her jouissance comes from placing him-/herself as an object in order to procure the jouissance of a phallus, even though he/she doesn't know to whom this phallus belongs. Although the pervert presents him-/herself as completely engaged in seeking jouissance, one of his/her aims is to make the law present. Lacan uses the term père-version, to demonstrate the way in which the pervert appeals to the father to fulfil the paternal function.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Monday, December 2, 2013
“The child must banish the father. Respect him, but kill him.” - Mark Rothko character on the subject of Cubism/Surrealism
Monday, November 25, 2013
Saturday, November 23, 2013
-Elizabeth Barrett Browning
WHAT was he doing the great god Pan
Down in the reeds by the river?
Spreading ruin and scattering ban
Splashing and paddling with hoofs of a goat
And breaking the golden lilies afloat
With the dragon-fly on the river.
He tore out a reed the great god Pan
From the deep cool bed of the river;
The limpid water turbidly ran
And the broken lilies a-dying lay
And the dragon-fly had fled away
Ere he brought it out of the river.
High on the shore sat the great god Pan
While turbidly flow'd the river;
And hack'd and hew'd as a great god can
With his hard bleak steel at the patient reed
Till there was not a sign of the leaf indeed
To prove it fresh from the river.
He cut it short did the great god Pan
(How tall it stood in the river!)
Then drew the pith like the heart of a man
Steadily from the outside ring
And notch'd the poor dry empty thing
In holes as he sat by the river.
'This is the way ' laugh'd the great god Pan
(Laugh'd while he sat by the river)
'The only way since gods began
To make sweet music they could succeed.'
Then dropping his mouth to a hole in the reed
He blew in power by the river.
Sweet sweet sweet O Pan!
Piercing sweet by the river!
Blinding sweet O great god Pan!
The sun on the hill forgot to die
And the lilies revived and the dragon-fly
Came back to dream on the river.
Yet half a beast is the great god Pan
To laugh as he sits by the river
Making a poet out of a man:
The true gods sigh for the cost and pain¡ª
For the reed which grows nevermore again
As a reed with the reeds of the river.
Friday, November 22, 2013
Thursday, November 21, 2013
Tuesday, November 19, 2013
- Moliere, "L’Étourdi, ou le Contre-Temps [The Scatterbrain (or The Bungler)]" (1653)
Nicolas Mignard, "Molière" (1658)
MASCARILLE: Oui, je te vais servir d'un plat de ma façon.
Fut-il jamais au monde un plus heureux garçon?
Oh! que dans un moment Lélie aura de joie!
Sa maîtresse en nos mains tomber par cette voie!
Recevoir tout son bien d'où l'on attend son mal,
Et devenir heureux par la main d'un rival!
Après ce rare exploit, je veux que l'on s'apprête
À me peindre en héros un laurier sur la tête,
Et qu'au bas du portrait on mette en lettres d'or:
Vivat Mascarillus, fourbum imperator!
MASCARILLE: Yes, I you'll serve a dish of my way.
Never was it to the world a more happy boy?
Oh! that in a moment Lelie will be joy!
His mistress in our hands fall in this way!
Receive all his good where it awaits its evil,
And become happy by the hand of a rival!
After this rare feat, I want that one prepares
To paint me as a hero a Laurel on the head,
And at the bottom of the portrait we put in letters of gold:
VIVAT Mascarillus, fourbum imperator!
Monday, November 18, 2013
If one were only an Indian, instantly alert, and on a racing horse, leaning against the wind, kept on quivering jerkily over the quivering ground, until one shed one’s spurs, for there needed no spurs, threw away the reins, for there needed no reins, and hardly saw that the land before one was smoothly shorn heath when horse’s neck and head would be already gone.- Franz Kafka, (posthumously, between 1903 and 1907)
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
What causes anxiety is the elevation of transgression into the norm, the lack of the prohibition that would sustain desire. This lack throws us into the suﬀocating proximity of the object-cause of desire: we lack the breathing space provided by the prohibition, since, even before we can assert our individuality through our resistance to the Norm, the Norm enjoins us in advance to resist, to violate, to go further and further. We should not confuse this Norm with regulation of our intersubjective contacts: perhaps there has been no period in the history of humankind, when interactions were so closely regulated; these regulations, however, no longer function as the symbolic prohibition - rather, they regulate modes of transgression themselves.- Zizek on the age of anxiety
Anxiety is the only emotion that does not deceive: all other emotions, from sorrow to love, are based on deceit… The feeling of guilt is a fake enabling us to give ourselves over to pleasures - when this frame falls away, anxiety arises. It is here that one should refer to the key distinction between the object of desire and its object-cause. What should the analyst do in the case of a promiscuous woman who has regular one-night stands, while complaining all the time how bad and miserable and guilty she feels about it? The thing not to do, of course, is to try to convince her that one-night stands are bad, the cause of her troubles, signs of some libidinal deadlock - in this way, one merely feeds her symptom, which is condensed in her (misleading) dissatisfaction with one night stands. That is to say, it is obvious that what gives the woman true satisfaction is not promiscuity as such, but the very accompanying feeling of being miserable - that is the source of her “masochistic” enjoyment.- Zizek on pleasure and guilt: "The Puppet and the Dwarf"
"There is no final solution on the horizon today, Capital is here to stay, all we can hope for is a temporary truce. That is to say, undoubtedly worse that this deadlock would have been a pseudo Deleuzian celebration of the successful revolt of the multitude. The hard kernel of today's global capitalist universe, its true Master Signifier is Democracy. And the latest statements of Negri and Hardt are a kind of unexpected confirmation of Alain Badiou's insight."- Slavoj Zizek, "The De-Sublimated Object of Post-Ideology"
"One should bear in mind Lacan's lesson here: accepting guilt is a manoeuvre which delivers us of anxiety, and its presence signals that the subject compromised his desire. So when, in a move described by Kierkegaard, one withdraws from the dizziness of freedom by seeking a firm support in the order of finitude, this withdrawal itself is the true Fall."- Slavoj Zizek, "Anxiety: Kierkegaard with Lacan"
"When one determines that the phallus is signifier, and Lacan shows that this is Freud's truth, castration has as its foundation the apprehension in the real of the absence of the woman's penis. What follows then is what he calls, following the analytic doxa, a feeling of female inferiority in the imaginary plan."- Jacques-Alain Miller, "Reading Jacques Lacan's Seminar on Anxiety"
Monday, November 4, 2013
Niels Bohr, who gave the right answer to Einstein's "God doesn't play dice" ("Don't tell God what to do!"), also provided the perfect example of how such a fetishist disavowal of belief works in ideology: seeing a horse-shoe on his door, the surprised visitor said that he doesn't believe in the superstition that it brings luck, to what Bohr snapped back: "I also do not believe in it; I have it there because I was told that it works also if one does not believe in it!" What this paradox renders clear is the way a belief is a reflexive attitude: it is never a case of simply believing - one has to believe in belief itself. Which is why Kierkegaard was right to claim that we do not really believe (in Christ), we just believe to believe - and Bohr just confronts us with the logical negative of this reflexivity (one can also NOT believe one's beliefs...). 1- Slavoj Zizek, "With or Without Passion: What's Wrong with Fundamentalism"
At some point, Alcoholics Anonymous meet Pascal: "Fake it until you make it.." However, this causality of the habit is more complex than it may appear: far from offering an explanation of how beliefs emerge, it itself calls for an explanation. The first thing to specify is that Pascal's "Kneel down and you will believe!" has to be understood as involving a kind of self-referential causality: "Kneel down and you will believe that you knelt down because you believed!" The second thing is that, in the "normal" cynical functioning of ideology, belief is displaced onto another, onto a "subject supposed to believe," so that the true logic is: "Kneel down and you will thereby MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BELIEVE!" One has to take this literally and even risk a kind of inversion of Pascal's formula: "You believe too much, too directly? You find your belief too oppressing in its raw immediacy? Then kneel down, act as if you believe, and YOU WILL GET RID OF YOUR BELIEF - you will no longer have to believe yourself, your belief will already ex-sist objectified in your act of praying!" That is to say, what if one kneels down and prays not so much to regain one's own belief but, on the opposite, to GET RID of one's belief, of its over-proximity, to acquire a breathing space of a minimal distance towards it? To believe - to believe "directly," without the externalizing mediation of a ritual - is a heavy, oppressing, traumatic burden, which, through exerting a ritual, one has a chance of transferring it onto an Other...
When Badiou emphasizes that double negation is not the same as affirmation, he thereby merely confirms the old Hegelian motto les non-dupes errent. Let us take the affirmation "I believe." Its negation is: "I do not really believe, I just fake to believe." However, its properly Hegelian negation of negation is not the return to direct belief, but the self-relating fake: "I fake to fake to believe," which means: "I really believe without being aware of it." Is, then, irony not the ultimate form of the critique of ideology today - irony in the precise Mozartean sense of taking the statements more seriously than the subjects who utter them themselves?
In the case of so-called "fundamentalists," this "normal" functioning of ideology in which the ideological belief is transposed onto the Other is disturbed by the violent return of the immediate belief - they "really believe it." The first consequence of this is that the fundamentalist becomes the dupe of his fantasy (as Lacan put it apropos Marquis de Sade), immediately identifying himself with it. From my own youth, I remember a fantasy concerning the origin of children: after I learned how children are made, I still had no precise idea on insemination, so I thought one has to make love every day for the whole nine months: in woman's belly, the child is gradually formed through sperm - each ejaculation is like adding an additional brick... One plays with such fantasies, not "taking them seriously," it is in this way that they fulfill their function - and the fundamentalist lacks this minimal distance towards his fantasy.
Let us return to our fundamentalist: the obverse of his turning into a dupe of his fantasy is that he loses his sensitivity for the enigma of the Other's desire. In a recent case of analytic treatment in UK, the patient, a woman who was a victim of rape, remained deeply disturbed by an unexpected gesture of the rapist: after already brutally enforcing her surrender, and just prior to penetrating her, he withdraw a little bit, politely said "Just a minute, lady!" and put on a condom. This weird intrusion of politeness into a brutal situation perplexed the victim: what was its meaning? Was it a strange care for her, or a simple egotistic protective measure from the part of the rapist (making it sure that he will not get AIDS from her, and not the other way round). This gesture, much more than explosions of raw passion, stands for the encounter of the "enigmatic signifier," of the desire of the Other in all its impenetrability. Does such an encounter of the Other's desire follow the logic of alienation or that of separation? It can be an experience of utter alienation (I am obsessed with the inaccessible obscure impenetrable divine Desire which plays games with me, as in the Jansenist dieu obscur); however, the key shift occurs when, in a Hegelian way, we gain insight into how "the secrets of the Egyptians were also secret for the Egyptians themselves," i.e., into how our alienation FROM the Other is already the alienation OF the Other (from) itself - it is this redoubled alienation that generates what Lacan called separation as the overlapping of the two lacks.
And the link between these two features of the fundamentalist's position is clear: since fantasy is a scenario the subject builds in order to answer the enigma of the Other's desire, i.e., since fantasy provides an answer to "What does the Other want from me?", the immediate identification with the fantasy as it were closes up the gap - the enigma is clarified, we fully know the answer...
Saturday, November 2, 2013
The superego inverts the Kantian ‘You can, because you must’ in a different way, turning it into ‘You must, because you can.’ This is the meaning of Viagra, which promises to restore the capacity of male erection in a purely biochemical way, bypassing all psychological problems. Now that Viagra can take care of the erection, there is no excuse: you should have sex whenever you can; and if you don’t you should feel guilty. New Ageism, on the other hand, offers a way out of the super ego predicament by claiming to recover the spontaneity of our ‘true’ selves. But New Age wisdom, too, relies on the superego imperative: ‘It is your duty to achieve full self-realisation and self-fulfilment, because you can.’ Isn’t this why we often feel that we are being terrorised by the New Age language of liberation?- Slavoj Zizek, "You May"
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Even on the waves there is fighting
Where fish and flesh are woven into sea
One stabs the lance into an army
Another throws it into the ocean
Arise, arise seaman arise
Each does it in his own way
One thrusts the spear into a man
Another then into the fish
Arise, arise seaman arise
And the waves cry softly
In their blood a spear is lodged
They bleed softly into the ocean
The lance must be drowned in flesh
Fish and man sink to the depths
Where the black soul dwells
there is no light on the horizon
Arise, arise seaman arise
Each does it in his own way
One thrusts the spear into a man
Another then into the fish
Arise, arise seaman arise
And the waves cry softly
In their blood a spear is lodged
They bleed softly into the ocean
Arise, arise seaman arise
And the waves cry softly
In their heart a spear is lodged
They bleed themselves dry on the shore
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
This book was first thought of, so far as the central idea goes, in 1937, but was not written down until about the end of 1943. By the time when it came to be written it was obvious that there would be great difficulty in getting it published (in spite of the present book shortage which ensures that anything describable as a book will ‘sell’), and in the event it was refused by four publishers. Only one of these had any ideological motive. Two had been publishing anti-Russian books for years, and the other had no noticeable political colour. One publisher actually started by accepting the book, but after making the preliminary arrangements he decided to consult the Ministry of Information, who appear to have warned him, or at any rate strongly advised him, against publishing it. Here is an extract from his letter:_ George Orwell, "Animal Farm"This kind of thing is not a good symptom. Obviously it is not desirable that a government department should have any power of censorship (except security censorship, which no one objects to in war time) over books which are not officially sponsored. But the chief danger to freedom of thought and speech at this moment is not the direct interference of the MOI or any official body. If publishers and editors exert themselves to keep certain topics out of print, it is not because they are frightened of prosecution but because they are frightened of public opinion. In this country intellectual cowardice is the worst enemy a writer or journalist has to face, and that fact does not seem to me to have had the discussion it deserves.I mentioned the reaction I had had from an important official in the Ministry of Information with regard to Animal Farm. I must confess that this expression of opinion has given me seriously to think... I can see now that it might be regarded as something which it was highly ill-advised to publish at the present time. If the fable were addressed generally to dictators and dictatorships at large then publication would be all right, but the fable does follow, as I see now, so completely the progress of the Russian Soviets and their two dictators, that it can apply only to Russia, to the exclusion of the other dictatorships. Another thing: it would be less offensive if the predominant caste in the fable were not pigs[*]. I think the choice of pigs as the ruling caste will no doubt give offence to many people, and particularly to anyone who is a bit touchy, as undoubtedly the Russians are.* It is not quite clear whether this suggested modification is Mr... ’s own idea, or originated with the Ministry of Information; but it seems to have the official ring about it. [Orwell’s Note]
Any fairminded person with journalistic experience will admit that during this war official censorship has not been particularly irksome. We have not been subjected to the kind of totalitarian ‘co-ordination’ that it might have been reasonable to expect. The press has some justified grievances, but on the whole the Government has behaved well and has been surprisingly tolerant of minority opinions. The sinister fact about literary censorship in England is that it is largely voluntary.
Unpopular ideas can be silenced, and inconvenient facts kept dark, without the need for any official ban. Anyone who has lived long in a foreign country will know of instances of sensational items of news — things which on their own merits would get the big headlines-being kept right out of the British press, not because the Government intervened but because of a general tacit agreement that ‘it wouldn’t do’ to mention that particular fact. So far as the daily newspapers go, this is easy to understand. The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.
At this moment what is demanded by the prevailing orthodoxy is an uncritical admiration of Soviet Russia. Everyone knows this, nearly everyone acts on it. Any serious criticism of the Soviet régime, any disclosure of facts which the Soviet government would prefer to keep hidden, is next door to unprintable. And this nation-wide conspiracy to flatter our ally takes place, curiously enough, against a background of genuine intellectual tolerance. For though you arc not allowed to criticise the Soviet government, at least you are reasonably free to criticise our own. Hardly anyone will print an attack on Stalin, but it is quite safe to attack Churchill, at any rate in books and periodicals. And throughout five years of war, during two or three of which we were fighting for national survival, countless books, pamphlets and articles advocating a compromise peace have been published without interference. More, they have been published without exciting much disapproval. So long as the prestige of the USSR is not involved, the principle of free speech has been reasonably well upheld. There are other forbidden topics, and I shall mention some of them presently, but the prevailing attitude towards the USSR is much the most serious symptom. It is, as it were, spontaneous, and is not due to the action of any pressure group.
The servility with which the greater part of the English intelligentsia have swallowed and repeated Russian propaganda from 1941 onwards would be quite astounding if it were not that they have behaved similarly on several earlier occasions. On one controversial issue after another the Russian viewpoint has been accepted without examination and then publicised with complete disregard to historical truth or intellectual decency. To name only one instance, the BBC celebrated the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Red Army without mentioning Trotsky. This was about as accurate as commemorating the battle of Trafalgar without mentioning Nelson, but it evoked no protest from the English intelligentsia. In the internal struggles in the various occupied countries, the British press has in almost all cases sided with the faction favoured by the Russians and libelled the opposing faction, sometimes suppressing material evidence in order to do so. A particularly glaring case was that of Colonel Mihailovich, the Jugoslav Chetnik leader. The Russians, who had their own Jugoslav protege in Marshal Tito, accused Mihailovich of collaborating with the Germans. This accusation was promptly taken up by the British press: Mihailovich’s supporters were given no chance of answering it, and facts contradicting it were simply kept out of print. In July of 1943 the Germans offered a reward of 100,000 gold crowns for the capture of Tito, and a similar reward for the capture of Mihailovich. The British press ‘splashed’ the reward for Tito, but only one paper mentioned (in small print) the reward for Mihailovich: and the charges of collaborating with the Germans continued. Very similar things happened during the Spanish civil war. Then, too, the factions on the Republican side which the Russians were determined to crush were recklessly libelled in the English leftwing [sic] press, and any statement in their defence even in letter form, was refused publication. At present, not only is serious criticism of the USSR considered reprehensible, but even the fact of the existence of such criticism is kept secret in some cases. For example, shortly before his death Trotsky had written a biography of Stalin. One may assume that it was not an altogether unbiased book, but obviously it was saleable. An American publisher had arranged to issue it and the book was in print — I believe the review copies had been sent out — when the USSR entered the war. The book was immediately withdrawn. Not a word about this has ever appeared in the British press, though clearly the existence of such a book, and its suppression, was a news item worth a few paragraphs.
It is important to distinguish between the kind of censorship that the English literary intelligentsia voluntarily impose upon themselves, and the censorship that can sometimes be enforced by pressure groups. Notoriously, certain topics cannot be discussed because of ‘vested interests’. The best-known case is the patent medicine racket. Again, the Catholic Church has considerable influence in the press and can silence criticism of itself to some extent. A scandal involving a Catholic priest is almost never given publicity, whereas an Anglican priest who gets into trouble (e.g. the Rector of Stiffkey) is headline news. It is very rare for anything of an anti-Catholic tendency to appear on the stage or in a film. Any actor can tell you that a play or film which attacks or makes fun of the Catholic Church is liable to be boycotted in the press and will probably be a failure. But this kind of thing is harmless, or at least it is understandable. Any large organisation will look after its own interests as best it can, and overt propaganda is not a thing to object to. One would no more expect the Daily Worker to publicise unfavourable facts about the USSR than one would expect the Catholic Herald to denounce the Pope. But then every thinking person knows the Daily Worker and the Catholic Herald for what they are. What is disquieting is that where the USSR and its policies are concerned one cannot expect intelligent criticism or even, in many cases, plain honesty from Liberal [sic — and throughout as typescript] writers and journalists who are under no direct pressure to falsify their opinions. Stalin is sacrosanct and certain aspects of his policy must not be seriously discussed. This rule has been almost universally observed since 1941, but it had operated, to a greater extent than is sometimes realised, for ten years earlier than that. Throughout that time, criticism of the Soviet régime from the left could only obtain a hearing with difficulty. There was a huge output of anti-Russian literature, but nearly all of it was from the Conservative angle and manifestly dishonest, out of date and actuated by sordid motives. On the other side there was an equally huge and almost equally dishonest stream of pro-Russian propaganda, and what amounted to a boycott on anyone who tried to discuss all-important questions in a grown-up manner. You could, indeed, publish anti-Russian books, but to do so was to make sure of being ignored or misrepresented by nearly me whole of the highbrow press. Both publicly and privately you were warned that it was ‘not done’. What you said might possibly be true, but it was ‘inopportune’ and played into the hands of this or that reactionary interest. This attitude was usually defended on the ground that the international situation, and me urgent need for an Anglo-Russian alliance, demanded it; but it was clear that this was a rationalisation. The English intelligentsia, or a great part of it, had developed a nationalistic loyalty towards me USSR, and in their hearts they felt that to cast any doubt on me wisdom of Stalin was a kind of blasphemy. Events in Russia and events elsewhere were to be judged by different standards. The endless executions in me purges of 1936-8 were applauded by life-long opponents of capital punishment, and it was considered equally proper to publicise famines when they happened in India and to conceal them when they happened in me Ukraine. And if this was true before the war, the intellectual atmosphere is certainly no better now.
But now to come back to this book of mine. The reaction towards it of most English intellectuals will be quite simple: ‘It oughtn’t to have been published.’ Naturally, those reviewers who understand the art of denigration will not attack it on political grounds but on literary ones. They will say that it is a dull, silly book and a disgraceful waste of paper. This may well be true, but it is obviously not me whole of the story. One does not say that a book ‘ought not to have been published’ merely because it is a bad book. After all, acres of rubbish are printed daily and no one bothers. The English intelligentsia, or most of them, will object to this book because it traduces their Leader and (as they see it) does harm to the cause of progress. If it did me opposite they would have nothing to say against it, even if its literary faults were ten times as glaring as they are. The success of, for instance, the Left Book Club over a period of four or five years shows how willing they are to tolerate both scurrility and slipshod writing, provided that it tells them what they want to hear.
The issue involved here is quite a simple one: Is every opinion, however unpopular — however foolish, even — entitled to a hearing? Put it in that form and nearly any English intellectual will feel that he ought to say ‘Yes’. But give it a concrete shape, and ask, ‘How about an attack on Stalin? Is that entitled to a hearing?’, and the answer more often than not will be ‘No’, In that case the current orthodoxy happens to be challenged, and so the principle of free speech lapses. Now, when one demands liberty of speech and of the press, one is not demanding absolute liberty. There always must be, or at any rate there always will be, some degree of censorship, so long as organised societies endure. But freedom, as Rosa Luxembourg [sic] said, is ‘freedom for the other fellow’. The same principle is contained in the famous words of Voltaire: ‘I detest what you say; I will defend to the death your right to say it.’ If the intellectual liberty which without a doubt has been one of the distinguishing marks of western civilisation means anything at all, it means that everyone shall have the right to say and to print what he believes to be the truth, provided only that it does not harm the rest of the community in some quite unmistakable way. Both capitalist democracy and the western versions of Socialism have till recently taken that principle for granted. Our Government, as I have already pointed out, still makes some show of respecting it. The ordinary people in the street-partly, perhaps, because they are not sufficiently interested in ideas to be intolerant about them-still vaguely hold that ‘I suppose everyone’s got a right to their own opinion.’ It is only, or at any rate it is chiefly, the literary and scientific intelligentsia, the very people who ought to be the guardians of liberty, who are beginning to despise it, in theory as well as in practice.
One of the peculiar phenomena of our time is the renegade Liberal. Over and above the familiar Marxist claim that ‘bourgeois liberty’ is an illusion, there is now a widespread tendency to argue that one can only defend democracy by totalitarian methods. If one loves democracy, the argument runs, one must crush its enemies by no matter what means. And who are its enemies? It always appears that they are not only those who attack it openly and consciously, but those who ‘objectively’ endanger it by spreading mistaken doctrines. In other words, defending democracy involves destroying all independence of thought. This argument was used, for instance, to justify the Russian purges. The most ardent Russophile hardly believed that all of the victims were guilty of all the things they were accused of: but by holding heretical opinions they ‘objectively’ harmed the régime, and therefore it was quite right not only to massacre them but to discredit them by false accusations. The same argument was used to justify the quite conscious lying that went on in the leftwing press about the Trotskyists and other Republican minorities in the Spanish civil war. And it was used again as a reason for yelping against habeas corpus when Mosley was released in 1943.
These people don’t see that if you encourage totalitarian methods, the time may come when they will be used against you instead of for you. Make a habit of imprisoning Fascists without trial, and perhaps the process won’t stop at Fascists. Soon after the suppressed Daily Worker had been reinstated, I was lecturing to a workingmen’s college in South London. The audience were working-class and lower-middle class intellectuals — the same sort of audience that one used to meet at Left Book Club branches. The lecture had touched on the freedom of the press, and at the end, to my astonishment, several questioners stood up and asked me: Did I not think that the lifting of the ban on the Daily Worker was a great mistake? When asked why, they said that it was a paper of doubtful loyalty and ought not to be tolerated in war time. I found myself defending the Daily Worker, which has gone out of its way to libel me more than once. But where had these people learned this essentially totalitarian outlook? Pretty certainly they had learned it from the Communists themselves! Tolerance and decency are deeply rooted in England, but they are not indestructible, and they have to be kept alive partly by conscious effort. The result of preaching totalitarian doctrines is to weaken the instinct by means of which free peoples know what is or is not dangerous. The case of Mosley illustrates this. In 1940 it was perfectly right to intern Mosley, whether or not he had committed any technical crime. We were fighting for our lives and could not allow a possible quisling to go free. To keep him shut up, without trial, in 1943 was an outrage. The general failure to see this was a bad symptom, though it is true that the agitation against Mosley’s release was partly factitious and partly a rationalisation of other discontents. But how much of the present slide towards Fascist ways of thought is traceable to the ‘anti-Fascism’ of the past ten years and the unscrupulousness it has entailed?
It is important to realise that the current Russomania is only a symptom of the general weakening of the western liberal tradition. Had the MOI chipped in and definitely vetoed the publication of this book, the bulk of the English intelligentsia would have seen nothing disquieting in this. Uncritical loyalty to the USSR happens to be the current orthodoxy, and where the supposed interests of the USSR are involved they are willing to tolerate not only censorship but the deliberate falsification of history. To name one instance. At the death of John Reed, the author of Ten Days that Shook the World — first-hand account of the early days of the Russian Revolution — the copyright of the book passed into the hands of the British Communist Party, to whom I believe Reed had bequeathed it. Some years later the British Communists, having destroyed the original edition of the book as completely as they could, issued a garbled version from which they had eliminated mentions of Trotsky and also omitted the introduction written by Lenin. If a radical intelligentsia had still existed in Britain, this act of forgery would have been exposed and denounced in every literary paper in the country. As it was there was little or no protest. To many English intellectuals it seemed quite a natural thing to do. And this tolerance or [sic = of?] plain dishonesty means much more than that admiration for Russia happens to be fashionable at this moment. Quite possibly that particular fashion will not last. For all I know, by the time this book is published my view of the Soviet régime may be the generally-accepted one. But what use would that be in itself? To exchange one orthodoxy for another is not necessarily an advance. The enemy is the gramophone mind, whether or not one agrees with the record that is being played at the moment.
I am well acquainted with all the arguments against freedom of thought and speech — the arguments which claim that it cannot exist, and the arguments which claim that it ought not to. I answer simply that they don’t convince me and that our civilisation over a period of four hundred years has been founded on the opposite notice. For quite a decade past I have believed that the existing Russian régime is a mainly evil thing, and I claim the right to say so, in spite of the fact that we are allies with the USSR in a war which I want to see won. If I had to choose a text to justify myself, I should choose the line from Milton:By the known rules of ancient liberty.The word ancient emphasises the fact that intellectual freedom is a deep-rooted tradition without which our characteristic western culture could only doubtfully exist. From that tradition many of our intellectuals arc visibly turning away. They have accepted the principle that a book should be published or suppressed, praised or damned, not on its merits but according to political expediency. And others who do not actually hold this view assent to it from sheer cowardice. An example of this is the failure of the numerous and vocal English pacifists to raise their voices against the prevalent worship of Russian militarism. According to those pacifists, all violence is evil, and they have urged us at every stage of the war to give in or at least to make a compromise peace. But how many of them have ever suggested that war is also evil when it is waged by the Red Army? Apparently the Russians have a right to defend themselves, whereas for us to do [so] is a deadly sin. One can only explain this contradiction in one way: that is, by a cowardly desire to keep in with the bulk of the intelligentsia, whose patriotism is directed towards the USSR rather than towards Britain. I know that the English intelligentsia have plenty of reason for their timidity and dishonesty, indeed I know by heart the arguments by which they justify themselves. But at least let us have no more nonsense about defending liberty against Fascism. If liberty means anything at all it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear. The common people still vaguely subscribe to that doctrine and act on it. In our country — it is not the same in all countries: it was not so in republican France, and it is not so in the USA today — it is the liberals who fear liberty and the intellectuals who want to do dirt on the intellect: it is to draw attention to that fact that I have written this preface.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Every citizen of this country should be guaranteed that their vote matters, that their vote is counted, and that in the voting booth, their vote has a much weight as that of any CEO, any member of Congress, or any President...Barbara Boxer
...completing her thought, "...provided you're a donor to MY campaign."
Monday, October 14, 2013
Humoresque, arguably Robert Schumann's piano masterpiece, is to he read against the background of the gradual loss of the voice in his songs: it is not a simple piano piece, but a song without the vocal line, with the vocal line reduced to silence, so that all we effectively hear is the piano accompaniment. This is how one should read the famous "inner voice linnere Stimmel" added by Schumann (in the written score) as a third line between the two piano lines, higher and lower: as the vocal melodic line which remains a non-vocalized "inner voice," a series of variations without the theme, accompaniment without the main melodic line (which exists only as Augenmusik, music for the eyes only, in the guise of written notes). (No wonder that Schumann composed a "concert without orchestra," a kind of counterpoint to Bartok's "concert for orchestra.") This absent melody is to be reconstructed on the basis of the fact that the first and third levels (the right and the left hand piano lines) do not relate to each other directly, i.e. their relationship is not that of an immediate mirroring: in order to account for their interconnection, one is thus compelled to (re)construct a third, "virtual" intermediate level (melodic line) which, for structural reasons, cannot be played. Its status is that of an impossible-real which can exist only in the guise of a writing, i.e. physical presence would annihilate the two melodic lines we effectively hear in reality (as in Freud's "A child is being beaten," in which the middle fantasy scene was never conscious and has to be reconstructed as the missing link between the first and the last scene). Schumann brings this procedure of absent melody to an apparently absurd self-reference when, later in the same fragment of Humoresque, he repeats the same two effectively played melodic lines, yet this time the score contains no third absent melodic line, no inner voice - what is absent here is the absent melody, i.e. absence itself. How are we to play these notes when, at the level of what is effectively to be played, they exactly repeat the previous notes? The effectively played notes are deprived only of what is not there, of their constitutive lack, or, to refer to the Bible, they lose even that what they never had. The true pianist should thus have the savoir-faire to play the existing, positive, notes in such a way that one would be able to discern the echo of the accompanying non-played "silent" virtual notes or their absence.- Slavoj Zizek, "Move the Underground"
And is this not how ideology works? The explicit ideological text (or practice) is sustained by the "unplayed" series of obscene superego supplement. In "Really Existing Socialism," the explicit ideology of socialist democracy was sustained by a set of implicit (unspoken) obscene injunctions and prohibitions, teaching the subject how not to take some explicit norms seriously and how to implement a set of publicly unacknowledged prohibitions. One of the strategies of dissidence in the last years of Socialism was therefore precisely to take the ruling ideology more seriously/literally than it took itself by way of ignoring its virtual unwritten shadow: "You want us to practice socialist democracy? OK, here you have it!" And when one got back from the Party apparatchiks desperate hints of how this is not the way things function, one simply had to ignore these hints... This is what happens with the proclamation of the Decalogue: its revolutionary novelty resides not in its content, but in the absence of the accompanying virtual texture of the Law's obscene supplement. This is what acheronta movebo ("moving the underground") as a practice of the critique of ideology means: not directly changing the explicit text of the Law, but, rather, intervening into its obscene virtual supplement. Recall the relationship towards homosexuality in a soldiers' community, which operates at two clearly distinct levels: the explicit homosexuality is brutally attacked, those identified as gays are ostracized, beaten up every night, etc.; however, this explicit homophobia is accompanied by an excessive set of implicit web of homosexual innuendos, inner jokes, obscene practices, etc. The truly radical intervention in to military homophobia should therefore not focus primarily on the explicit repression of homosexuality; it should rather "move the underground," disturb the implicit homosexual practices which SUSTAIN the explicit homophobia.
– Virgil, as quoted by Freud, "Interpretation of Dreams"
Flectere si nequeo Superos, Acheronta movebo ("If I cannot bend the Higher Powers, I will move the Acheron").
Saturday, October 12, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Doppelganger: In fiction and folklore, a doppelgänger or doppelganger (/ˈdɒpəlˌɡæŋər/; German: [ˈdɔpəlˌɡɛŋɐ] ( listen), look-alike, literally a "double goer") is a paranormal double of a living person.from Wikipedia
It also describes the sensation of having glimpsed oneself in one's own peripheral vision with no chance of the supposed phenomenon having been a reflection.
A doppelgänger is often perceived as a sinister form of bilocation and is regarded by some to be a harbinger of bad luck. In some traditions, a doppelgänger seen by a person's relative or friend portends illness or danger while seeing one's own doppelgänger is said to be an omen of death.
Recent scientific experimentation has duplicated several doppelgänger effects when electrical stimulation was applied to the left temporoparietal junction of a patient's brain.
In contemporary vernacular, the word doppelgänger is often used in a more general sense to identify any person that physically ‒ or perhaps even behaviorally ‒ resembles another person without regard to the word's original paranormal meaning.
A dream or illusion had haunted Lincoln at times through the winter. On the evening of his election he had thrown himself on one of the haircloth sofas at home, just after the first telegrams of November 7 had told him he was elected president, and looking into a bureau mirror across the room he saw himself full length, but with two faces. It bothered him; he got up; the illusion vanished; but when he lay down again there in the glass again were two faces, one paler than the other. He got up again, mixed in the election excitement, forgot about it; but it came back, and haunted him. He told his wife about it; she worried too. A few days later he tried it once more and the illusion of the two faces again registered to his eyes. But that was the last; the ghost since then wouldn't come back, he told his wife, who said it was a sign he would be elected to a second term, and the death pallor of one face meant he wouldn't live through his second term.Carl Sanberg, "Abraham Lincoln"
I think I could offer a slightly different interpretation (See post below)
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Superego is the obscene "nightly" law that necessarily redoubles and accompanies, as its shadow, the "public" Law. This inherent and constitutive splitting in the Law is the subject of Rob Reiner's film A Few Good Men, the court- martial drama about two marines accused of murdering one of their fellow soldiers. The military prosecutor claims that the two marines' act was a deliberate murder, whereas the defense succeeds in proving that the defendants just followed the so-called "Code Red," which authorizes the clandestine night-time beating of a fellow soldier who, in the opinion of his peers or of the superior officer, has broken the ethical code of the marines. The function of this "Code Red" is extremely interesting: it condones an act of transgression- illegal punishment of a fellow soldier- yet at the same time it reaffirms the cohesion of the group, i.e. it calls for an act of supreme identification with group values. Such a code must remain under the cover of night, unacknowledged, unutterable- in public everybody pretends to know nothing about it, or even actively denies its existence. It represents the "spirit of community" In its purest, exerting the strongest pressure on the individual to comply with its mandate of group identification. Yet, simultaneously, it violates the explicit rules of community life. (The plight of the two accused soldiers is that they are unable to grasp this exclusion of "Code Red" from the "Big Other," the domain of the public Law: They desperately ask themselves "What did we do wrong?" since they just followed the order of the superior officer.) Where does this splitting of the Law into the written public Law and its underside, the "unwritten," obscene secret code, come from? From the incomplete, "non-all" character of the public Law: explicit., public rules do not suffice, so they have to be supplemented by a clandestine, "unwritten" code aimed at those who, although they violate no public rules, maintain a kind of inner distance and do not truly identify with the "spirit of community."- Slavoj Zizek, "Why are Laibach and NSK not Fascists?"
The field of the law is thus split into Law qua "Ego-ldeal," i.e., a symbolic order which regulates social life and maintains social peace, and into its obscene, superegotistical inverse. As has been shown by numerous analyses from [Mikhail] Bakhtin onwards, periodic transgressions of the public law are inherent to the social order, they function as a condition of the latter's stability. (The mistake of Bakhtin -or, rather, of some of his followers-"- was to present an idealized image of these "transgressions," while passing in silence over lynching parties, etc., as the crucial form of the carnevalesque suspense of social hierarchy.") What most deeply "holds together" a community is not so much identification with the Law that regulates the community's "normal" everyday circuit, but rather identification with a specific form of transgression of the Law, of the Law's suspension (in psychoanalytic terms, with a specific form of enjoyment). Let us return to those small town white communities in the American south of the twenties, where the reign of the official, public Law is accompanied by its shadowy double, the nightly terror of Ku Klux Klan, with its lynching of powerless blacks: a (white) man is easily forgiven minor infractions of the Law, especially when they can be justified by a "code of honor"; the community still recognizes him as "one of us." Yet he will be effectively excommunicated, perceived as "not one of us," the moment he disowns the specific form of transgression that pertains to this community-say, the moment he refuses to partake in the ritual lynching by the Klan, or even reports them to the Law (which, of course, does not want to hear about them since they exemplify its own hidden underside). The Nazi community relied on the same solidarity-in-guilt adduced by participation in a common transgression: it ostracized those who were not ready to assume the dark side of the idyllic Volksgemeinschaft, the night pogroms, the beatings of political opponents - in short, all that "everybody knew, yet did not want to speak about aloud."
This may look like criticism of the GOP, but IT isn't, either. This is why NOT
Monday, October 7, 2013
But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, representation to reality, the appearance to the essence... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness.- Feuerbach, "Preface to the second edition of The Essence of Christianity"
Sunday, October 6, 2013
‘The fundamental level of ideology is not of an illusion masking the real state of things but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself. And at this level, we are of course far from being a post-ideological society. Cynical distance is just one way – one of many ways – to blind ourselves to the structuring power of ideological fantasy: even if we do not take things seriously, even if we keep an ironic distance, we are still doing them’- Slavoj Zizek
Friday, October 4, 2013
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
In logic, the law of excluded middle (or the principle of excluded middle) is the third of the three classic laws of thought. It states that for any proposition, either that proposition is true, or its negation is true.
The law is also known as the law (or principle) of the excluded third, in Latin principium tertii exclusi. Yet another Latin designation for this law is tertium non datur: "no third (possibility) is given".
The earliest known formulation is Aristotle's principle of non-contradiction, first proposed in On Interpretation, where he says that of two contradictory propositions (i.e. where one proposition is the negation of the other) one must be true, and the other false. He also states it as a principle in the Metaphysics Book 3, saying that it is necessary in every case to affirm or deny, and that it is impossible that there should be anything between the two parts of a contradiction.
The principle should not be confused with the principle of bivalence, which states that every proposition is either true or false, and has only a semantical formulation.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
The Irish dullahan or dulachán ("dark man") is a headless fairy, usually riding a black horse and carrying his head under one arm (or holding it high to see at great distance). He wields a whip made from a human corpse's spine. When the dullahan stops riding, a death occurs. The dullahan calls out a name, at which point the named person immediately perishes. In another version, he is the headless driver of a black carriage. A similar figure, the gan ceann ("without a head"), can be frightened away by wearing a gold object or casting one in his path.- Wikipedia
Friday, September 27, 2013
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
-T.S. Eliot, "The Wasteland"
Above the antique mantel was displayed
As though a window gave upon the sylvan scene
The change of Philomel, by the barbarous king
So rudely forced; yet there the nightingale
Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
“Jug Jug” to dirty ears.
Saturday, September 21, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
The most elementary definition of ideology is probably the well known phrase from Marx's 'Capital':- Slavoj Zizek, "Zizek"They do not know it, but they are doing it.The fundamental level of ideology, however, is not of an illusion masking the real state of things, but that of an (unconscious) fantasy structuring our social reality itself.
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
There was it also where I picked up from the path the word "Superman," and that man is something that must be surpassed.- Nietzsche, "Zarathustra"
-That man is a bridge and not a goal- rejoicing over his noontides and evenings, as advances to new rosy dawns:-The Zarathustra word of the great noontide, and whatever else I have hung up over men like purple evening-afterglows.Verily, also new stars did I make them see, along with new nights; and over cloud and day and night, did I spread out laughter like a gay-coloured canopy.
I taught them all my poetisation and aspiration: to compose and collect into unity what is fragment in man, and riddle and fearful chance;-As composer, riddle-reader, and redeemer of chance, did I teach them to create the future, and all that hath been- to redeem by creating.
The past of man to redeem, and every "It was" to transform, until the Will saith: "But so did I will it! So shall I will it-"
-This did I call redemption; this alone taught I them to call redemption.- Now do I await my redemption- that I may go unto them for the last time.
For once more will I go unto men: amongst them will my sun set; in dying will I give them my choicest gift!
From the sun did I learn this, when it goeth down, the exuberant one: gold doth it then pour into the sea, out of inexhaustible riches,-So that the poorest fisherman roweth even with golden oars! For this did I once see, and did not tire of weeping in beholding it.- Like the sun will also Zarathustra go down: now sitteth he here and waiteth, old broken tables around him, and also new tables half-written.
Saturday, September 14, 2013
- William Cowper, "The Timepiece" (excerpt)
As nations, ignorant of God, contrive
A wooden one, so we, no longer taught
By monitors that Mother Church supplies,
Now make our own. Posterity will ask
(If e'er posterity sees verse of mine),
Some fifty or a hundred lustrums hence,
What was a monitor in George's days?
My very gentle reader, yet unborn,
Of whom I needs must augur better things,
Since Heaven would sure grow weary of a world
Productive only of a race like us,
A monitor is wood--plank shaven thin.
We wear it at our backs. There, closely braced
And neatly fitted, it compresses hard
The prominent and most unsightly bones,
And binds the shoulders flat. We prove its use
Sovereign and most effectual to secure
A form, not now gymnastic as of yore,
From rickets and distortion, else, our lot.
But thus admonished we can walk erect,
One proof at least of manhood; while the friend
Sticks close, a Mentor worthy of his charge.
Our habits costlier than Lucullus wore,
And, by caprice as multiplied as his,
Just please us while the fashion is at full,
But change with every moon. The sycophant,
That waits to dress us, arbitrates their date,
Surveys his fair reversion with keen eye;
Finds one ill made, another obsolete,
This fits not nicely, that is ill conceived;
And, making prize of all that he condemns,
With our expenditure defrays his own.
Variety's the very spice of life,
That gives it all its flavour. We have run
Through every change that fancy, at the loom
Exhausted, has had genius to supply,
And, studious of mutation still, discard
A real elegance, a little used,
For monstrous novelty and strange disguise.
We sacrifice to dress, till household joys
And comforts cease. Dress drains our cellar dry,
And keeps our larder lean; puts out our fires,
And introduces hunger, frost, and woe,
Where peace and hospitality might reign.
What man that lives, and that knows how to live,
Would fail to exhibit at the public shows
A form as splendid as the proudest there,
Though appetite raise outcries at the cost?
A man o' the town dines late, but soon enough,
With reasonable forecast and despatch,
To ensure a side-box station at half-price.
You think, perhaps, so delicate his dress,
His daily fare as delicate. Alas!
He picks clean teeth, and, busy as he seems
With an old tavern quill, is hungry yet.
The rout is folly's circle which she draws
With magic wand. So potent is the spell,
That none decoyed into that fatal ring,
Unless by Heaven's peculiar grace, escape.
There we grow early gray, but never wise;
There form connections, and acquire no friend;
Solicit pleasure hopeless of success;
Waste youth in occupations only fit
For second childhood, and devote old age
To sports which only childhood could excuse.
There they are happiest who dissemble best
Their weariness; and they the most polite,
Who squander time and treasure with a smile,
Though at their own destruction. She that asks
Her dear five hundred friends, contemns them all,
And hates their coming. They (what can they less?)
Make just reprisals, and, with cringe and shrug
And bow obsequious, hide their hate of her.
All catch the frenzy, downward from her Grace,
Whose flambeaux flash against the morning skies,
And gild our chamber ceilings as they pass,
To her who, frugal only that her thrift
May feed excesses she can ill afford,
Is hackneyed home unlackeyed; who, in haste
Alighting, turns the key in her own door,
And, at the watchman's lantern borrowing light,
Finds a cold bed her only comfort left.
Wives beggar husbands, husbands starve their wives,
On Fortune's velvet altar offering up
Their last poor pittance--Fortune, most severe
Of goddesses yet known, and costlier far
Than all that held their routs in Juno's heaven.--
So fare we in this prison-house the world.
And 'tis a fearful spectacle to see
So many maniacs dancing in their chains.
They gaze upon the links that hold them fast
With eyes of anguish, execrate their lot,
Then shake them in despair, and dance again.
Thursday, September 5, 2013
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
Friday, August 23, 2013
Piglia quoted as an example of Borges’s claim one of Michail Chekhov’s tales whose nucleus is: ‘A man goes to the casino at Monte Carlo, wins a million, returns to his place and commits suicide.’:- Slavoj Zizek, "Brunhilde's Act"If this is the nucleus of a story, one must, in order to tell it, divide the twisted story in two: on the one hand, the story of the game; on the other, that of the suicide. Thus Piglia’s first thesis: that a story always has a double characteristic and always tells two stories at the same time, which provides the opportunity to distinguish the story which is on the first plane from the number 2 story which is encoded in the interstices of story number 1. We should note that story number 2 only appears when the story is concluded, and it has the effect of surprise. What joins these two stories is that the elements, the events, are inscribed in two narrative registers which are at the same time distinct, simultaneous, and antagonistic, and the construction itself of the story is supported by the junction between the two stories. The inversions which seem superfluous in the development of story number 1 become, on the contrary, essential in the plot of story number 2. /…/
There is a modern form of the story which transforms this structure by omitting the surprise finale without closing the structure of the story, which leaves a trace of a narrative, and the tension of the two stories is never resolved. This is what one considers as being properly modern: the subtraction of the final anchoring point which allows the two stories to continue in an unresloved tension.
This is the case, says Piglia, with Hemingway, who pushed the ellipse to its highest point in such a way that the secret story remains hermetic. One perceives simply that there is another story which needs to be told, but which remains absent. There is a hole. If one modified Chekhov’s note in Hemingway’s style, it would not narrate the suicide, but rather the text would be assembled in such a way that one might think that the reader already knew it. Kafka constitutes another of these variants. He narrates very simply, in his novels, the most secret story, a secret story which appears on the first plane, told as if coming from itself, and he encodes the story which should be visible but which becomes, on the contrary, enigmatic and hidden.
Maybe you had to be there....
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Archaeologists who discovered the skeleton beneath a Leicester car park last year decided with backing from the Ministry of Justice that it should be reinterred in the city's cathedral.
But their plan met with a strong wave of opposition from groups based in Yorkshire who claimed that the Plantagenet King should be buried at York Minster instead.
In a hearing on Thursday, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave gave the group, known as the Plantagenet Alliance, permission to launch a High Court challenge in what he described as an "unprecedented" case.
But he added that he hoped the matter could be settled without the need for an "unseemly, undignified and unedifying" legal squabble, urging both sides to "avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part Two".
He recommended that both parties instead agree to leave the decision in the hands of an independent advisory panel made up of "suitable experts and Privy Councillors" who could make a suitable decision based on submissions from each side.
King Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and was originally buried at Greyfriars church in Leicester, after his body was carried there by supporters of the victorious Henry VII.
The remains were rediscovered beneath a council car park last year by archaeologists from the University of Leicester, and the University was given permission to decide where they should be reinterred.
But while the discovery of the lost king was welcomed by his supporters in York, the University's subsequent decision to rebury the remains in Leicester Cathedral caused outrage and sparked a legal challenge.
Mr Justice Haddon-Cave on Thursday gave the Plantagenet Alliance permission to bring judicial review proceedings against the Justice Secretary and the University of Leicester, with a full hearing to resolve the case expected later in the year.
But in his written judgment he commented: "It is ironic that the Wars of the Roses appear to be returning whence they started – the Temple. Legend has it that John Beaufort and Richard Plantagenet picked the symbolic red and white roses in Inner and Middle Temple gardens.
"I would, however, urge the parties to avoid embarking on the (legal) Wars of the Roses Part 2. In my view, it would be unseemly, undignified and unedifying to have a legal tussle over these royal remains."
He reminded both sides that the archaeological discovery "engages interests beyond those of the immediate parties, and touches on sovereign, state and church", and recommended the formation of an independent panel "who can consult and receive representations from all interested parties and make suitable recommendations with reasonable speed."
Explaining his decision, Mr Justice Haddon-Cave said the context of the King's death and depth of public feeling raised an "obvious duty" to consult widely over how he should be reburied.
Some 26,553 people have signed a petition that the remains should be reinterred at York Minster and 8,115 people have signed a petition that they should be reinterred at Leicester. There was also a "passionate debate" on the matter in the House of Commons in March, he said.
"[The case] involves the remarkable, and unprecedented, discovery of remains of a King of England of considerable historical significance, who died fighting a battle which brought to an end a civil war which divided this country," he said.
"The obvious duty to consult widely arises from this singular fact alone. It was obvious that there would be intense, widespread and legitimate public interest and concern in many quarters as to the treatment and final resting place of Richard III's remains."
The University of Leicester said it was "digesting" the judgment but added that it "continues to take the view that the claim is without merit" and maintains it is "entirely proper and fitting" the remains should be buried in Leicester Cathedral.
"We have received messages of support from some including Michael Ibsen, whose DNA, together with that of another direct descendant of Richard's sister, was key to identifying the remains found at Greyfriars in Leicester," a spokesman said.
Stephen Nicolay, chairman of the Plantagenet Alliance and a 16th great-nephew of the King, said: "We are delighted to receive such a full and comprehensive backing for the case."
He added that the group would be happy to leave the decision in the hands of an independent panel.
"We are not interested in a legal fight, we are just trying to make sure the right thing is done," he said. "We would very much like to discuss this in a sensible and mature manner."
Vanessa Roe, deputy chair of the Plantagenet Alliance, added: "The whole point of bringing it to court was that it was the last thing we could do – they weren't going to discuss it full stop.
"As long as the evidence is looked at objectively, I don't see why an independent panel could not take the decision."
Monday, August 19, 2013
“The fragile web of civility is the ‘social substance’ of free independent individuals, it is their very mode of (inter) dependence. If this substance disintegrates, the very social space of individual freedom is foreclosed.” For this reason, civility is a hidden ideology – or rather a successful one – that has become normalized and is unquestioned because it forms the very basis for the idea of human freedom. Unlike religion and law, civility cannot be enforced, since to impose it would mean that perhaps humans are not inherently polite or civil; it is only an act.Source:
In this way, freedom is feigned, according to Žižek. It is delineated as a free choice to behave politely, be tolerant, and regulate internal conflicts. But this is actually the framework one uses to define freedom itself. In other words, freedom could not occur without the abstract idea of what freedom is supposed to be.
To guarantee freedom, ethics demands denial of the pure subjectivity of the Other. The Judeo-Christian command to “love thy neighbor,” says Žižek, makes the Neighbor inhuman. Subjectivity is lost when ethics requires universality: it is not the neighbor who is loved, but the abstract concept – an unproblematic thing – which is subsumed under the title “fellow man.” At the same time, a safe distance or abyss is maintained from the Other through “politeness.”
Žižek uses the example of would-be Adolph Hitler assassins who decided against killing the mass murderer at an opportune time in the mess hall because “it is not seemly to shoot a man at lunch.” This reveals the sheer abstraction of civility and the denial of subjectivity in both Hitler and his victims: the Nazi’s true nature is ignored in order to restore his title as “fellow man” while his victims are made secondary to a strange custom.
Paradoxically, human freedom requires the inhuman treatment of the Neighbor, and the humane treatment of the Other requires that he or she be made an object. Since the Other is unfathomable and terrifying, a civil, free society must domesticate the unknown territory through routine niceties and abstract kindness to a universal Neighbor that does not exist.
from: Žižek, Slavoj. "In Defense of Lost Causes".
It is a well-known fact that, in the last minutes of Götterdammerung, the orchestra performs an excessively intricate cobweb of motifs, basically nothing less than the recapitulation of the motivic wealth of the entire Ring. Is this fact not the ultimate proof that Wagner himself was not sure about what the final apotheosis of the Ring “means”? Not being sure of it, he took a kind of ‘flight forward’ and threw together all of the motifs. This rather vicious hypothesis was proposed by Adorno (in his In Search of Wagner): Wagner did not know how to end the cycle, so he merely spun together a few obvious motifs; Adorno added that the final bars of the Ring (the “redemption through love” motif) were used simply because they were the most beautiful sounding – beautiful in the sense of kitsch, not of authentic artistic beauty.Zizek, "Gotterdammerung or The Reign of Human Love"
One is effectively tempted to paraphrase the ending with this beautiful motif as something like the sentimental wisdom: “What does it matter if all of this is a mess – the important thing is that we love each other!” So the culminating motif of “redemption through love” cannot but make us think of Joseph Kerman’s acerbic comment about the last notes of Puccini’s Tosca in which the orchestra bombastically recapitulates the “beautiful” pathetic melodic line of the Cavaradossi’s “E lucevan le stelle,” as if, unsure of what to do Puccini simply desperately repeated the most “effective” melody from the previous score, ignoring all narrative or emotional logic.  And what if Wagner did exactly the same thing at the end of Götterdammerung? Not sure about the final twist that should stabilize and guarantee the meaning of it all, he resorted to a beautiful melody whose effect is something like “whatever any of this may mean, let us make sure that the concluding impression will be that of something triumphant and uplifting in its redemptive beauty …” In short, what if this final motif enacts an empty gesture?
Saturday, August 17, 2013
The magic power of the voice as object is perhaps best rendered towards the end of Chapter 1 of Marcel Proust’s “The Guermantes Way,” part of his In Search of Lost Time. In a memorable scene, the narrator Marcel, using the phone for the first time, talks to his grandmother:- Slavoj Zizek, "Less than Nothing"after a few seconds of silence, suddenly I heard that voice which I supposed myself, mistakenly, to know so well; for always until then, every time that my grandmother had talked to me, I had been accustomed to follow what she was saying on the open score of her face, in which the eyes figured so largely; but her voice itself I was hearing this afternoon for the first time. And because that voice appeared to me to have altered in its proportions from the moment that it was a whole, and reached me in this way alone and without the accompaniment of her face and features, I discovered for the first time how sweet that voice was … It was sweet, but also how sad it was, first of all on account of its very sweetness, a sweetness drained almost―more than any but a few human voices can ever have been―of every element of resistance to others, of all selfishness; fragile by reason of its delicacy it seemed at every moment ready to break, to expire in a pure flow of tears; then, too, having it alone beside me, seen, without the mask of her face, I noticed for the first time the sorrows that had scarred it in the course of a lifetime.Proust’s very precise description here uncannily points forward to Lacanian theory: the voice is subtracted from its “natural” totality of the body to which it belongs, out of which it emerges as an autonomous partial object, an organ magically capable of surviving without the body whose organ it is―it is as if it stands “alone beside me, seen, without the mask of her face.” This subtraction withdraws it from (our ordinary) reality into the virtual domain of the Real, where it persists as an undead specter haunting the subject:“‘Granny!’ I cried to her, ‘Granny!’ and would have kissed her, but I had beside me only that voice, a phantom, as impalpable as that which would come perhaps to revisit me when my grandmother was dead.”As such, this voice signals simultaneously a distance (Granny is not here) and an obscene over-proximity, a presence more intimate, more penetrating, than that of a body in front of us:A real presence indeed that voice so near―in actual separation. But a premonition also of an eternal separation! Over and again, as I listened in this way, without seeing her who spoke to me from so far away, it has seemed to me that the voice was crying to me from depths out of which one does not rise again, and I have known the anxiety that was one day to wring my heart when a voice should thus return (alone, and attached no longer to a body which I was never more to see).The term “anxiety” is to be read in the precise Lacanian sense: for Lacan, anxiety does not signal the loss of the object, but, on the contrary, its over-proximity. Anxiety arises when the objet a falls directly into reality, appears in it―which is precisely what happens when Marcel hears the grandmother’s voice separated from her body and discovers “for the first time how sweet that voice was”:this sweetness is, of course, the extracted quintessence which led to Marcel’s intense libidinal investment in the grandmother.This, incidentally, is how psychoanalysis approaches the libidinal-subjective impact of new technological inventions:“technology is a catalizer, it enlarges and enhances something which is already here”―in this case, a fantasmatic virtual fact, like that of a partial object. And, of course, this realization changes the entire constellation: once a fantasy is realized, once a fantasmatic object directly appears in reality, reality is no longer the same.
Here we might mention the sex-gadget industry: one can find today on the market a so-called “Stamina Training Unit,” a masturbatory device which resembles a battery light (so that one will not be embarrassed carrying it around). It works by putting the erect penis into the opening at the top and moving the device up and down until satisfaction is achieved. The product is available in different colors, widths, and forms that imitate all three main orifices (mouth, vagina, anus). What one is offered here is simply the partial object (erogenous zone) alone, minus the embarrassing additional burden of a whole person. The fantasy (of reducing the sexual partner to a partial object) is thus directly realized, which changes the entire libidinal economy of sexual relations.
This brings us to the key question: what happens to the body when it is separated from its voice, when the voice is subtracted from the wholeness of the person? For a brief moment, we see “a world robbed of fantasy, of the affective frame and sense, a world out of joint.” Grandmother appears to Marcel outside the fantasmatic horizon of meaning, the rich texture of his previous long experience of her as a warm, charming person. All of a sudden, he sees her “red-faced, heavy and common, sick, lost in thought, following the lines of a book with eyes that seemed hardly sane, a dejected old woman whom I did not know.” Seen after the fateful phone conversation, deprived of the fantasy frame, the grandmother is like a beached squid―a creature which moves elegantly in the water but turns into a disgusting piece of slimy flesh once out of it.