Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ukraine... the New Lebanon Bordering the Caucusus?

from In These Times
In her classic study On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross proposed the famous scheme of the five stages of how we react upon learning that we have a terminal illness: denial (one simply refuses to accept the fact: “This can’t be happening, not to me.”); anger (which explodes when we can no longer deny the fact: “How can this happen to me?”); bargaining (the hope we can somehow postpone or diminish the fact: “Just let me live to see my children graduate.”); depression (libidinal disinvestment: “I'm going to die, so why bother with anything?”); acceptance (“I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it.”). Later, Kübler-Ross applied these stages to any form of catastrophic personal loss (joblessness, death of a loved one, divorce, drug addiction), and also emphasized that they do not necessarily come in the same order, nor are all five stages experienced by all patients.

Is the reaction of the public opinion and authorities in Western Europe to the flow of refugees from Africa and Middle East also not a similar combination of disparate reactions? There was denial, now diminishing: “It’s not so serious, let’s just ignore it.” There is anger: “Refugees are a threat to our way of life, hiding among them Muslim fundamentalists, they should be stopped at any price!” There is bargaining: “OK, let’s establish quotas and support refugee camps in their own countries!” There is depression: “We are lost, Europe is turning into Europa-stan!” What is lacking is acceptance, which, in this case, would have meant a consistent all-European plan of how to deal with the refugees.

So what to do with hundreds of thousands of desperate people who wait in the north of Africa, escaping from war and hunger, trying to cross the sea and find refuge in Europe?

There are two main answers. Left liberals express their outrage at how Europe is allowing thousands to drown in Mediterranean. Their plea is that Europe should show solidarity by opening its doors widely. Anti-immigrant populists claim we should protect our way of life and let the Africans solve their own problems.

Which solution is better? To paraphrase Stalin, they are both worse. Those who advocate open borders are the greater hypocrites: Secretly, they know very well this will never happen, since it would trigger an instant populist revolt in Europe. They play the Beautiful Soul which feels superior to the corrupted world while secretly participating in it.

The anti-immigrant populist also know very well that, left to themselves, Africans will not succeed in changing their societies. Why not? Because we, North Americans and Western Europeans, are preventing them. It was the European intervention in Libya which threw the country in chaos. It was the U.S. attack on Iraq which created the conditions for the rise of ISIS. The ongoing civil war in the Central African Republic is not just an explosion of ethnic hatred; France and China are fighting for the control of oil resources through their proxies.

But the clearest case of our guilt is today’s Congo, which is again emerging as the African “heart of darkness.” Back in 2001, a UN investigation into the illegal exploitation of natural resources in Congo found that its internal conflicts are mainly about access to, control of, and trade in five key mineral resources: coltan, diamonds, copper, cobalt and gold. Beneath the façade of ethnic warfare, we thus discern the workings of global capitalism. Congo no longer exists as a united state; it is a multiplicity of territories ruled by local warlords controlling their patch of land with an army which, as a rule, includes drugged children. Each of these warlords has business links to a foreign company or corporation exploiting the mining wealth in the region. The irony is that many of these minerals are used in high-tech products such as laptops and cell phones.

Remove the foreign high-tech companies from the equation and the whole narrative of ethnic warfare fueled by old passions falls apart. This is where we should begin if we really want to help the Africans and stop the flow of refugees. The first thing is to recall that most of refugees come from the “failed states”—where public authority is more or less inoperative, at least in large regions—Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Congo, etc. This disintegration of state power is not a local phenomenon but a result of international economy and politics—in some cases, like Libya and Iraq, a direct outcome of Western intervention. It is clear that the rise of these “failed states” is not just an unintended misfortune but also one of the ways the great powers exert their economic colonialism. One should also note that the seeds of the Middle East’s “failed states” are to be sought in the arbitrary borders drawn after World War I by UK and France and thereby creating a series of “artificial” states. By way of uniting Sunnis in Syria and Iraq, ISIS is ultimately bringing together what was torn apart by the colonial masters.

One cannot help noting the fact that some not-too-rich Middle Eastern countries (Turkey, Egypt, Iraq) are much more open to the refugees than the really wealthy ones (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Qatar). Saudi Arabia and Emirates received no refugees, although they border countries in crisis and are culturally much closer to the refugees (who are mostly Muslims) than Europe. Saudi Arabia even returned some Muslim refugees from Somalia. Is this because Saudi Arabia is a fundamentalist theocracy which can tolerate no foreign intruders? Yes, but one should also bear in mind that this same Saudi Arabia is economically fully integrated into the West. From the economic standpoint, are Saudi Arabia and Emirates, states that totally depend on their oil revenues, not pure outposts of Western capital? The international community should put full pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia Kuwait and Qatar to do their duty in accepting a large contingent of the refugees. Furthermore, by way of supporting the anti-Assad rebels, Saudi Arabia is largely responsible for the situation in Syria. And the same holds in different degrees for many other countries—we are all in it.

A new slavery

Another feature shared by these rich countries is the rise of a new slavery. While capitalism legitimizes itself as the economic system that implies and furthers personal freedom (as a condition of market exchange), it generated slavery on its own, as a part of its own dynamics: although slavery became almost extinct at the end of the Middle Ages, it exploded in colonies from early modernity till the American Civil War. And one can risk the hypothesis that today, with the new epoch of global capitalism, a new era of slavery is also arising. Although it is no longer a direct legal status of enslaved persons, slavery acquires a multitude of new forms: millions of immigrant workers in the Saudi peninsula (Emirates, Qatar, etc.) who are de facto deprived of elementary civil rights and freedoms; the total control over millions of workers in Asian sweatshops often directly organized as concentration camps; massive use of forced labor in the exploitation of natural resources in many central African states (Congo, etc.). But we don’t have to look so far. On December 1, 2013, at least seven people died when a Chinese-owned clothing factory in an industrial zone in the Italian town of Prato, 19 kilometers from the center of Florence, burned down, killing workers trapped in an improvised cardboard dormitory built onsite. The accident occurred in the Macrolotto industrial district of the town, known for its garment factories. Thousands more Chinese immigrants were believed to be living in the city illegally, working up to 16 hours per day for a network of wholesalers and workshops turning out cheap clothing.

We thus do not have to look for the miserable life of new slaves far away in the suburbs of Shanghai (or in Dubai and Qatar) and hypocritically criticize China—slavery can be right here, within our house, we just don't see it (or, rather, pretend not to see it). This new de facto apartheid, this systematic explosion of the number of different forms of de facto slavery, is not a deplorable accident but a structural necessity of today's global capitalism.

But are the refugees entering Europe not also offering themselves to become cheap precarious workforce, in many cases at the expense of local workers, who react to this threat by joining anti-immigrant political parties? For most of the refugees, this will be the reality of their dream realized.

The refugees are not just escaping from their war-torn homelands; they are also possessed by a certain dream. We can see again and again on our screens. Refugees in southern Italy make it clear that they don’t want to stay there—they mostly want to live in Scandinavian countries. And what about thousands camping around Calais who are not satisfied with France but are ready to risk their lives to enter the United Kingdom? And what about tens of thousands of refugees in Balkan countries who want to reach Germany at least? They declare this dream as their unconditional right, and demand from European authorities not only proper food and medical care but also the transportation to the place of their choice.

There is something enigmatically utopian in this impossible demand: as if it is the duty of Europe to realize their dream, a dream which, incidentally, is out of reach to most of Europeans. How many South and East Europeans would also not prefer to live in Norway? One can observe here the paradox of utopia: precisely when people find themselves in poverty, distress and danger, and one would expect that they would be satisfied by a minimum of safety and well-being, the absolute utopia explodes. The hard lesson for the refugees is that “there is no Norway,” even in Norway. They will have to learn to censor their dreams: Instead of chasing them in reality, they should focus on changing reality.

A Left taboo

One of the great Left taboos will have to be broken here: the notion that the protection of one’s specific way of life is in itself a proto-Fascist or racist category. If we don’t abandon this notion, we open up the way for the anti-immigrant wave which thrives all around Europe. (Even in Denmark, the anti-immigrant Democratic party for the first time overtook Social-Democrats and became the strongest party in the country.) Addressing concerns of ordinary people about the threats to their specific way of life can be done also from the Left. Bernie Sanders is a living proof of that! The true threat to our communal ways of life are not foreigners but the dynamic of global capitalism: In the United States alone, the economic changes of the last several decades did more to destroy communal life in small cities than all the immigrants together.

The standard Left-liberal reaction to this is, of course, an explosion of arrogant moralism: The moment we give any credence to the “protection of our way of life” motif, we already compromise our position, since we propose a more modest version of what anti-immigrant populists openly advocate. Is this not the story of last decades? Centrist parties reject the open racism of anti-immigrant populists, but they simultaneously profess to “understand the concerns” of ordinary people and enact a more “rational” version of the same politics.

But while this contains a kernel of truth, the moralistic complaints—“Europe lost empathy, it is indifferent towards the suffering of others,” etc.—are merely the obverse of the anti-immigrant brutality. Both stances share the presupposition, which is in no way self-evident, that a defense of one’s own way of life excludes ethical universalism. One should thus avoid getting caught into the liberal game of “how much tolerance can we afford.” Should we tolerate if they prevent their children going to state schools, if they arrange marriages of their children, if they brutalize gays among their ranks? At this level, of course, we are never tolerant enough, or we are always already too tolerant, neglecting the rights of women, etc. The only way to break out of this deadlock is to move beyond mere tolerance or respect of others to a common struggle.

One must thus broaden the perspective: Refugees are the price of global economy. In our global world, commodities circulate freely, but not people: new forms of apartheid are emerging. The topic of porous walls, of the threat of being inundated by foreigners, is strictly immanent to global capitalism, it is an index of what is false about capitalist globalization. While large migrations are a constant feature of human history, their main cause in modern history are colonial expansions: Prior to colonization, the Global South mostly consisted of self-sufficient and relatively isolated local communities. It was colonial occupation and slave trading that threw this way of life off the rails and renewed large-scale migrations.

Europe is not the only place experiencing a wave of immigration. In South Africa, there are over a million refugees from Zimbabwe, who are exposed to attacks from local poor for stealing their jobs. And there will be more, not just because of armed conflicts, but because of new “rogue states,” economic crisis, natural disasters (exacerbated by climate change), man-made disasters, etc. It is now known that, after the Fukushima nuclear meltdown, Japanese authorities thought for a moment that the entire Tokyo area—20 millions of people—will have to be evacuated. Where, in this case, should they have gone? Under what conditions? Should they be given a piece of land or just be dispersed around the world? What if northern Siberia becomes more inhabitable and arable, while vast sub-Saharan regions become too dry to support the large populations that live there? How will the exchange of population be organized? When similar things happened in the past, social changes occurred in a wild spontaneous way, with violence and destruction (recall the great migrations at the end of the Roman empire)—such a prospect is catastrophic in today’s conditions, with arms of mass destruction available to many nations.

The main lesson to be learned is therefore that humankind should get ready to live in a more “plastic” and nomadic way: Rapid local and global changes in environment may require unheard-of, large-scale social transformations. One thing is clear: National sovereignty will have to be radically redefined and new levels of global cooperation invented. And what about the immense changes in economy and conservation due to new weather patterns or water and energy shortages? Through what processes of decision will such changes be decided and executed? A lot of taboos will have to be broken here, and a set of complex measures undertaken.

First, Europe will have to reassert its full commitment to provide means for the dignified survival of the refugees. There should be no compromise here: Large migrations are our future, and the only alternative to such commitment is a renewed barbarism (what some call “clash of civilizations”).

Second, as a necessary consequence of this commitment, Europe should organize itself and impose clear rules and regulations. State control of the stream of refugees should be enforced through a vast administrative network encompassing all of the European Union (to prevent local barbarisms like those of the authorities in Hungary or Slovakia). Refugees should be reassured of their safety, but it should also be made clear to them that they have to accept the area of living allocated to them by European authorities, plus they have to respect the laws and social norms of European states: No tolerance of religious, sexist or ethnic violence on any side, no right to impose onto others one’s own way of life or religion, respect of every individual’s freedom to abandon his/her communal customs, etc. If a woman chooses to cover her face, her choice should be respected, but if she chooses not to cover it, her freedom to do so has to be guaranteed. Yes, such a set of rules privileges the Western European way of life, but it is a price for European hospitality. These rules should be clearly stated and enforced, by repressive measures (against foreign fundamentalists as well as against our own anti-immigrant racists) if necessary.

Third, a new type of international interventions will have to be invented: military and economic interventions that avoid neocolonial traps. What about UN forces guaranteeing peace in Libya, Syria or Congo? Since such interventions are closely associated with neocolonialism, extreme safeguards will be needed. The cases of Iraq, Syria and Libya demonstrate how the wrong type of intervention (in Iraq and Libya) as well as non-intervention (in Syria, where, beneath the appearance of non-intervention, external powers from Russia to Saudi Arabia and the U.S.? are fully engaged) end up in the same deadlock.

Fourth, the most difficult and important task is a radical economic change that should abolish social conditions that create refugees. The ultimate cause of refugees is today’s global capitalism itself and its geopolitical games, and if we do not transform it radically, immigrants from Greece and other European countries will soon join African refugees. When I was young, such an organized attempt to regulate commons was called Communism. Maybe we should reinvent it. Maybe, this is, in the long term, our only solution.

Is all this a utopia? Maybe, but if we don’t do it, then we are really lost, and we deserve to be.
- Slavoj Zizek

*Correction: this story initially said that the anti-immigrant Democratic party overtook the Social-Democrats in Sweden when it meant to refer to Denmark. It has been corrected.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Re-Making the RNC...

Which Doctor?
Oh little sicky, seems to be the pain?
Got all these herbs don't mean a fucking thing
I am the little witch, with the magick tricks
Mistrust the White House, come and get your fix

It's not about the numbers, what you feel is real
Crystals, rays of light, the taste of orange peel
Open the mind, change the mind, that's how we achieve
Can't hurt to try right?
It's what I believe

Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor

I taste the green when you come here and complain
I'll give you cleanliness, while I make it rain
I'm a corpse eating vulture, who tells you how to feel
Don't trust the white coats, i'll make you a better deal

Put a needle in the cheek so turn the other one
Come back tomorrow, because we'll never get it done
Open the mind, change the mind, that's how we achieve
Can't hurt to try right?
It's what I believe

Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor
Witch doctor

Friday, September 25, 2015

Points de Capiton

Don't discard
mismatched pieces
of your life
Let your colors
speak proudly
whisper pinks
brassy reds
gritty blacks and
soulful sapphires

Live wisely
but love foolishly
Kiss morning dew
Smell golden sunshine
Drink summer breezes
Embrace the heavens
Inhale ocean depths and
exhale life

Until each piece
of your life
is stitched
with tender memories
to warm loved ones
on cold winter nights
- Jenny Miller, "Patchwork Quilt" (2011)

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Paris

Her grave, sweet haughtiness
Pleaseth me, and in like wise
Her quiet ironies.
Others are beautiful, none more, some less.

I suppose, when poetry comes down to facts,
When our souls are returned to the gods
And the spheres they belong in,
Here in the every-day where our acts
Rise up and judge us;

I suppose there are a few dozen verities
That no shift of mood can shake from us:

One place where we'd rather have tea
(Thus far hath modernity brought us)
'Tea' (Damn you!)

Have tea, damn the Caesars,
Talk of the latest success, give wing to some scandal,
Garble a name we detest, and for prejudice?
Set loose the whole consummate pack
to bay like Sir Roger de Coverley's
This our reward for our works,
sic crescit gloria mundi:
Some circle of not more than three
that we prefer to play up to,
Some few whom we'd rather please
than hear the whole aegrum vulgus
Splitting its beery jowl
a-meaowling our praises.
Some certain peculiar things,
cari laresque, penates,
Some certain accustomed forms,
the absolute unimportant.
Ezra Pound, "Au Salon"

Friday, September 18, 2015

POP! Culture

Transitory Art!
Artist Nicola L was born in Mazagan, Morocco in 1937 and now lives and works in New York City. Since the mid-1960s her work has interrogated the female body as an instrument and object.

Influenced by the socio-political upheavals and demonstrations of the 1960s, Red Coat, 1969, was designed for a concert of Brazilian musicians Gilberto Gil and Caetano Veloso, which took place at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Created for various improvised performances in public spaces, the Red Coat is exemplary of Nicola L’s experimentation with presenting the human body as a conceptual piece of art.

The Red Coat strips the ‘body’ of any particular identity and immerses the wearers in a communal performance to declare the peaceful notion - ‘Same Skin for Everybody’.

After working between Europe and the United States for nearly twelve years, in 1979 Nicola L moved definitively to live and work in New York City.

The Red Coat is on currently on display at Tate Modern as part of the The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop, 17 September 2015 – 24 January 2016.

More

It's FRIDAY!

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that’s best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes;
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

One shade the more, one ray the less,
Had half impaired the nameless grace
Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o’er her face;
Where thoughts serenely sweet express,
How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

And on that cheek, and o’er that brow,
So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
- Lord Byron, "She Walks in Beauty"

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Accomodations

Salvador Dalí , "The Accommodations of Desire" (1929)
Dalí did not paint the lions' heads but, rather, cut them out from what must have been an illustrated children's book. These collaged elements are virtually indistinguishable from the super-saturated color and painstaking realism of the rest of the composition.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Light a Candle for Capitalism!

...or "Why the Chinese model will replace the European one?"
...or maybe NOT!

How focus can be affected by the "lack" of a critical distance.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Sewer Suites

It's dirty down in the gutter
With the perverts and the nutters

And you just do everything
Lower and lower it you brings

The lowest things normal are
You're giving blow jobs in their cars

You take it all you smile and laugh
As they stick it up your arse


And sometimes you're having fun
The drugs and sex make you come

It's nice to sink so low
The perversion grows and grows

But then the hang over it strikes
Your fucked and tired an empty life

But with the drugs back in your veins
You start it all up again


Your pimp he smiles and he knows
And down and down you do go

When your down there's no way out
Though sometimes you do scream and shout

Open wide and come again
Now the devil is your friend

Your pimp he knocks you about
You love it as you scream and shout


Down and out you're down and out

Friday, September 11, 2015

You'll Never Fall Away!

Hello Mother,
Can you hear me?
I called to tell you goodbye…
These flames grow closer,
And the smoke is getting thicker.
Daddy, please say a prayer with me before I die.
Because there is no way out of this,
And I know soon I won’t exist.
Sister, share with me one last cry…
For these planes have landed,
And I’m left stranded
On this burning island in the sky.
Brother, it’s so hard to breathe in here,
Smoke so thick it makes my eyes burn and tear
This is not how I pictured the end of my life.
Rescue cannot get to me
Mass confusion blocks my relief
So I share my last words with you, sweet wife…
This burning building will not be my end,
So, to the ledge I feel beckoned,
Please give the kids a last kiss for me, dear husband.
The outside breeze so entices me
Away from this tragedy
Cooling my skin that is being singed from the flames surrounding me.
So I jump, without fear
Towards my own heaven
To join the rest that left
On Nine Eleven.
Nora Garriga, "The Jumpers: A 9/11 Story"

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Alone Time

Some days aren’t made for sharing
They’re meant for self alone
These times brook no intrusion
I hold them for my own

I have the need within me
to seek a private space,
somewhere I’m happy by myself
confronted by no human face

My friends all understand me
They’re hurt not by my flight,
but respect my wish for freedom
as my undisputed right
And when indulgent isolation
has once again fulfilled
my need for such seclusion,
and my sense of self has healed
Then I’ll emerge from cloister
and conform once more to life
refreshed from my alone-ness
and equipped to cope with strife.
-Jaye Denman, "Paean to Solitude"

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Judges 11-12

-Alexander Cabanel, "The Daughter of Jephthah" (1879)
Chapter 11

1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he was the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

2 And Gilead's wife bare him sons; and his wife's sons grew up, and they thrust out Jephthah, and said unto him, Thou shalt not inherit in our father's house; for thou art the son of a strange woman.

3 Then Jephthah fled from his brethren, and dwelt in the land of Tob: and there were gathered vain men to Jephthah, and went out with him.

4 And it came to pass in process of time, that the children of Ammon made war against Israel.

5 And it was so, that when the children of Ammon made war against Israel, the elders of Gilead went to fetch Jephthah out of the land of Tob:

6 And they said unto Jephthah, Come, and be our captain, that we may fight with the children of Ammon.

7 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, Did not ye hate me, and expel me out of my father's house? and why are ye come unto me now when ye are in distress?

8 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, Therefore we turn again to thee now, that thou mayest go with us, and fight against the children of Ammon, and be our head over all the inhabitants of Gilead.

9 And Jephthah said unto the elders of Gilead, If ye bring me home again to fight against the children of Ammon, and the Lord deliver them before me, shall I be your head?

10 And the elders of Gilead said unto Jephthah, The Lord be witness between us, if we do not so according to thy words.

11 Then Jephthah went with the elders of Gilead, and the people made him head and captain over them: and Jephthah uttered all his words before the Lord in Mizpeh.

12 And Jephthah sent messengers unto the king of the children of Ammon, saying, What hast thou to do with me, that thou art come against me to fight in my land?

13 And the king of the children of Ammon answered unto the messengers of Jephthah, Because Israel took away my land, when they came up out of Egypt, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and unto Jordan: now therefore restore those lands again peaceably.

14 And Jephthah sent messengers again unto the king of the children of Ammon:

15 And said unto him, Thus saith Jephthah, Israel took not away the land of Moab, nor the land of the children of Ammon:

16 But when Israel came up from Egypt, and walked through the wilderness unto the Red sea, and came to Kadesh;

17 Then Israel sent messengers unto the king of Edom, saying, Let me, I pray thee, pass through thy land: but the king of Edom would not hearken thereto. And in like manner they sent unto the king of Moab: but he would not consent: and Israel abode in Kadesh.

18 Then they went along through the wilderness, and compassed the land of Edom, and the land of Moab, and came by the east side of the land of Moab, and pitched on the other side of Arnon, but came not within the border of Moab: for Arnon was the border of Moab.

19 And Israel sent messengers unto Sihon king of the Amorites, the king of Heshbon; and Israel said unto him, Let us pass, we pray thee, through thy land into my place.

20 But Sihon trusted not Israel to pass through his coast: but Sihon gathered all his people together, and pitched in Jahaz, and fought against Israel.

21 And the Lord God of Israel delivered Sihon and all his people into the hand of Israel, and they smote them: so Israel possessed all the land of the Amorites, the inhabitants of that country.

22 And they possessed all the coasts of the Amorites, from Arnon even unto Jabbok, and from the wilderness even unto Jordan.

23 So now the Lord God of Israel hath dispossessed the Amorites from before his people Israel, and shouldest thou possess it?

24 Wilt not thou possess that which Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So whomsoever the Lord our God shall drive out from before us, them will we possess.

25 And now art thou any thing better than Balak the son of Zippor, king of Moab? did he ever strive against Israel, or did he ever fight against them,

26 While Israel dwelt in Heshbon and her towns, and in Aroer and her towns, and in all the cities that be along by the coasts of Arnon, three hundred years? why therefore did ye not recover them within that time?

27 Wherefore I have not sinned against thee, but thou doest me wrong to war against me: the Lord the Judge be judge this day between the children of Israel and the children of Ammon.

28 Howbeit the king of the children of Ammon hearkened not unto the words of Jephthah which he sent him.

29 Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, and he passed over Gilead, and Manasseh, and passed over Mizpeh of Gilead, and from Mizpeh of Gilead he passed over unto the children of Ammon.

30 And Jephthah vowed a vow unto the Lord, and said, If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into mine hands,

31 Then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering.

32 So Jephthah passed over unto the children of Ammon to fight against them; and the Lord delivered them into his hands.

33 And he smote them from Aroer, even till thou come to Minnith, even twenty cities, and unto the plain of the vineyards, with a very great slaughter. Thus the children of Ammon were subdued before the children of Israel.

34 And Jephthah came to Mizpeh unto his house, and, behold, his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels and with dances: and she was his only child; beside her he had neither son nor daughter.

35 And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me: for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.

36 And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which hath proceeded out of thy mouth; forasmuch as the Lord hath taken vengeance for thee of thine enemies, even of the children of Ammon.

37 And she said unto her father, Let this thing be done for me: let me alone two months, that I may go up and down upon the mountains, and bewail my virginity, I and my fellows.

38 And he said, Go. And he sent her away for two months: and she went with her companions, and bewailed her virginity upon the mountains.

39 And it came to pass at the end of two months, that she returned unto her father, who did with her according to his vow which he had vowed: and she knew no man. And it was a custom in Israel,

40 That the daughters of Israel went yearly to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in a year.

Chapter 12

1 And the men of Ephraim gathered themselves together, and went northward, and said unto Jephthah, Wherefore passedst thou over to fight against the children of Ammon, and didst not call us to go with thee? we will burn thine house upon thee with fire.

2 And Jephthah said unto them, I and my people were at great strife with the children of Ammon; and when I called you, ye delivered me not out of their hands.

3 And when I saw that ye delivered me not, I put my life in my hands, and passed over against the children of Ammon, and the Lord delivered them into my hand: wherefore then are ye come up unto me this day, to fight against me?

4 Then Jephthah gathered together all the men of Gilead, and fought with Ephraim: and the men of Gilead smote Ephraim, because they said, Ye Gileadites are fugitives of Ephraim among the Ephraimites, and among the Manassites.

5 And the Gileadites took the passages of Jordan before the Ephraimites: and it was so, that when those Ephraimites which were escaped said, Let me go over; that the men of Gilead said unto him, Art thou an Ephraimite? If he said, Nay;

6 Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right. Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan: and there fell at that time of the Ephraimites forty and two thousand.

7 And Jephthah judged Israel six years. Then died Jephthah the Gileadite, and was buried in one of the cities of Gilead.

8 And after him Ibzan of Bethlehem judged Israel.

9 And he had thirty sons, and thirty daughters, whom he sent abroad, and took in thirty daughters from abroad for his sons. And he judged Israel seven years.

10 Then died Ibzan, and was buried at Bethlehem.

11 And after him Elon, a Zebulonite, judged Israel; and he judged Israel ten years.

12 And Elon the Zebulonite died, and was buried in Aijalon in the country of Zebulun.

13 And after him Abdon the son of Hillel, a Pirathonite, judged Israel.

14 And he had forty sons and thirty nephews, that rode on threescore and ten ass colts: and he judged Israel eight years.

15 And Abdon the son of Hillel the Pirathonite died, and was buried in Pirathon in the land of Ephraim, in the mount of the Amalekites.

The Psychoanalyst's Goal?

Lacan's formula of the four discourses thus enables us to deploy the two faces of modernity (total administration and capitalist-individualist dynamics) as two ways to undermine the master's discourse: doubt about the efficiency of the master-figure (what Eric Santner called the "crisis of investiture") can be supplemented by the direct rule of the experts legitimized by their knowledge, or the excess of doubt, of permanent questioning, can be directly integrated into social reproduction. Finally, the analyst's discourse stands for the emergence of revolution-ary-emancipatory subjectivity that resolves the split of university and hysteria. In it, the revolutionary agent - a - addresses the subject from the position of knowledge that occupies the place of truth (i.e., which intervenes at the "symptomal torsion" of the subject's constellation), and the goal is to isolate, get rid of, the master signifier that structured the subject's (ideologico-political) unconscious.

Or does it? Jacques-Alain Miller has recently proposed that today the master's discourse is no longer the "obverse" of the analyst's discourse. [1] Today, on the contrary, our "civilization" itself-its hegemonic symbolic matrix, as it were-fits the formula of the analyst's discourse. The agent of the social link is today a, surplus enjoyment, the superego injunction to enjoy that permeates our discourse; this injunction addresses $ (the divided subject) who is put to work in order to live up to this injunction. The truth of this social link is S2, scientific-expert knowledge in its different guises, and the goal is to generate S1, the self-mastery of the subject, that is, to enable the subject to cope with the stress of the call to enjoyment (through self-help manuals, etc.). Provocative as this notion is, it raises a series of questions. If it is true, in what, then, resides the difference between the discursive functioning of civilization as such and the psychoanalytic social link? Miller resorts here to a suspicious solution: in our civilization, the four terms are kept apart, isolated; each operates on its own, while only in psychoanalysis are they brought together into a coherent link: "in civilization, each of the four terms remains disjoined... it is only in psychoanalysis, in pure psychoanalysis, that these elements are arranged into a discourse."
[1] Miller, Jacques-Alain, "La passe: Conférence de Jacques-Alain Miller." paper presented at the fourth Congrès de l'AMP, Comandatuba - Bahia, Brazil, August 9-12, 2004.
Slavoj Zizek, "Jacques Lacan's Four Discourses"

Friday, September 4, 2015

Slow Dancer

I cannot dance upon my Toes --
No Man instructed me --
But oftentimes, among my mind,
A Glee possesseth me,

That had I Ballet knowledge --
Would put itself abroad
In Pirouette to blanch a Troupe --
Or lay a Prima, mad,

And though I had no Gown of Gauze --
No Ringlet, to my Hair,
Nor hopped to Audiences -- like Birds,
One Claw upon the Air,

Nor tossed my shape in Eider Balls,
Nor rolled on wheels of snow
Till I was out of sight, in sound,
The House encore me so --

Nor any know I know the Art
I mention -- easy -- Here --
Nor any Placard boast me --
It's full as Opera --
Emily Dickinson, "I cannot dance upon my Toes"

Thursday, September 3, 2015

The Culture Industry

"Man as a member of a species has been made a reality by the culture industry. Now any person signifies only those attributes by which he can replace everybody else; he is interchangeable."
- Horkheimer and Adorno, "Dialectic of Enlightenment"

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Hiding Behind the Walls of Cultural Identity?

Identity is not what I promise others
Identity is what I do when I am alone
Identity is what I think of others
Knowing all the hatred they've shown

Identity is what every wound reminds me
Identity is what I learn and what I pass by
Identity is what I see in the mirror
After giving my best try

Identity is what I make out of my given chance
Identity is what I accept and what I deny
No one else has control over me
Life is about me, and what I identify
- Abhiraj Rajadhyaksha, "Identity of I"

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Is the Left Trapped in the Structuralism of Multi-Cultural Identity?

It was a long time ago.
I have almost forgotten my dream.
But it was there then,
In front of me,
Bright like a sun—
My dream.
And then the wall rose,
Rose slowly,
Slowly,
Between me and my dream.
Rose until it touched the sky—
The wall.
Shadow.
I am black.
I lie down in the shadow.
No longer the light of my dream before me,
Above me.
Only the thick wall.
Only the shadow.
My hands!
My dark hands!
Break through the wall!
Find my dream!
Help me to shatter this darkness,
To smash this night,
To break this shadow
Into a thousand lights of sun,
Into a thousand whirling dreams
Of sun!
- Langston Hughes, "As I Grew Older"

The poor mans counter to the otherwise economically available "purchasing option" for obtaining social distance.