Thursday, September 21, 2017

Against Nationalism. The Crazies are Coming!

The saber rattling and harsh rhetoric during the current nuclear standoff on the Korean Peninsula should remind mankind of something we have forgotten. Atomic weapons are terrifying things, and talk of using them should be a taboo subject.

A week or so ago, I found myself reading Agatha Christie’s 80th, and penultimate, book, "Passenger to Frankfurt," and its relevance to today struck me. The book was published in 1970, with the subtitle “an extravaganza,” is an utter failure and was often characterized as an “incomprehensible muddle”; however, this "muddle" is not due to Christie’s old age or senility: instead, its causes are clearly political.

Passenger to Frankfurt is Christie’s most personal, intimately felt, and at the same time most political novel. It expresses her personal confusion, her feeling of being totally at a loss with what was going on in the world in the late 1960s – the drugs, the sexual revolution, student protests, murders, etc. So it's no wonder that Passenger to Frankfurt is not a detective novel. There is no murder, no logic, and deduction. This feeling of the collapse of the elementary cognitive mapping, this overwhelming fear of chaos, is rendered precisely in Christie’s introduction to the novel:
“Hold up a mirror to 1970 in England. Look at that front page every day for a month, make notes, consider and classify. Every day there is a killing. A girl strangled. An elderly woman attacked and robbed of her meager savings. Young men or boys attacking or attacked. Buildings and telephone kiosks smashed and gutted. Drug smuggling. Robbery and assault. Children missing and children’s murdered bodies found not far from their homes. Can this be England? Is England really like this? Not yet, but it could be. Fear is awakening, a fear of what may be. And not only in our own country. There are smaller paragraphs on other pages giving news from Europe, from Asia, from the Americas, in Worldwide News. Hi-jacking of planes. Kidnapping. Violence. Riots. Hate. Anarchy. All growing stronger. All seeming to lead to worship of destruction, pleasure in cruelty. What does it all mean?”
Is our era with “leaders” like Donald Trump and Kim Yong Un not as crazy as her vision? Are we today not all like a bunch of passengers to Frankfurt?
So what does all this mean? In the novel, Christie provides her answer – a terrible worldwide conspiracy which has something to do with Richard Wagner and "The Young Siegfried." We learn that, toward the end of World War II, Hitler went to a mental institution, met with a group of people who thought they were Hitler, and exchanged places with one of them, thus surviving the war. He then escaped to Argentina where he married and had a son who was branded with a swastika on his heel – “The Young Siegfried.” Meanwhile, in the book's present, drugs, promiscuity, and student protests are all secretly caused by Nazi agitators who want to bring about anarchy so that they can restore Nazi domination on a world scale.

Global delirium

This “terrible worldwide conspiracy” is, of course, ideological fantasy at its purest: a weird condensation of the fear of extreme right and extreme left. The least we can say to Christie’s credit is that she locates the heart of the conspiracy to the extreme right (neo-Nazis) and not in any of the other usual suspects (Communism, Jews, Muslims, etc.). The idea neo-Nazis were behind the ’68 student protesters and sexual liberation struggle, with its obvious madness, nonetheless bears witness to the disintegration of a consistent cognitive mapping of our predicament.

Christie is compelled to take refuge in such a crazy paranoiac construct as the only way to introduce some order and meaning into the utter confusion and panic she found herself in. But is her vision really too crazy to be taken seriously? Is our era with “leaders” like Donald Trump and Kim Yong Un not as crazy as her vision? Are we today not all like a bunch of passengers to Frankfurt? Our situation is messy in a way very similar to the one described by Christie: a rightist government enforcing workers’ rights (in Poland), a leftist government pursuing the strictest austerity politics (in Greece). Thus, it's no wonder that, to regain a minimal cognitive mapping, Christie resorts to WWII, “the last good war,” retranslating our mess into its coordinates.

One should nonetheless note how the very form of Christie’s answer (one big secret agent behind it all) strangely mirrors the fascist idea of the Jewish conspiracy: how there is one big Nazi plot behind which lies the explanation to everything. And, today, the extreme populist right proposes a similar explanation of the Muslim immigrant “threat.” In antisemitic imaginary, the “Jew” is the invisible master who secretly pulls the strings, which is why Muslim immigrants are NOT today's Jews: they are all too visible, not invisible. They are clearly not integrated into our societies, and nobody claims they secretly pull strings - if one sees in their “invasion of Europe” a secret plot, then Jews have to be behind it. As was the case in a text that recently appeared in one of the main Slovenian Rightist weekly journals where we could read: “George Soros is one of the most depraved and dangerous people of our time,” responsible for “the invasion of the negroid and Semitic hordes and thereby for the twilight of the EU... as a typical Talmudo-Zionist, he is a deadly enemy of Western civilization, the nation-state and white, European man.”

His goal is to build a “rainbow coalition composed of social marginals like faggots, feminists, Muslims and work-hating cultural Marxists,” which would then perform “a deconstruction of the nation-state, and transform the EU into a multicultural dystopia of the United States of Europe.” Furthermore, Soros is inconsistent in his promotion of multiculturalism: “He promotes it exclusively in Europe and the USA, while in the case of Israel, he, in a way which is for me totally justified, agrees with its monoculturalism, latent racism and building a wall. In contrast to the EU and USA, he also does not demand from Israel to open its borders and accept ‘refugees.' A hypocrisy appropriate to Talmudo-Zionism.”[Quoted from Bernard Brščič, ‘George Soros is one of the most depraved and dangerous people of our time’ (in Slovene), Demokracija, August 25 2016, p. 15.]

This is the end?

Is this disgusting fantasy which brings together antisemitism and Islamophobia so different from the one staged by Christie? Are they both not a desperate attempt to orient oneself in confused times? The extreme oscillations in the public perception of the Korean crisis are significant as such. One week we are told we are on the brink of nuclear war, then there is a week of respite, then the war threat explodes again. When I visited Seoul in August 2017, my friends there told me there is no significant threat of a war since the North Korean regime knows it cannot survive it, but now the South Korean authorities are preparing the population for a nuclear war.

In such a situation, where the apocalypse is on the horizon, one should bear in mind the standard logic of probability no longer applies, we need a different logic, described by Jean-Pierre Dupuy: “The catastrophic event is inscribed into the future as destiny, for sure, but also as a contingent accident… if an outstanding event takes place, a catastrophe, for example, it could not have taken place; nonetheless, insofar as it did not occur, it is not inevitable. It is thus the event’s actualization – the fact that it takes place – which retroactively creates its necessity.”[ Jean-Pierre Dupuy, Petite metaphysique des tsunami, Paris: Seuil 2005, p. 19.] Dupuy provides the example of the French presidential elections in May 1995; here is the January forecast of the main polling Institute: “If on next May 8th, Mr (Édouard) Balladur will be elected, one can say the presidential election was decided before it even took place.”
The moment we fully accept the fact that we live on Spaceship Earth, the task that urgently imposes itself is that of civilizing civilizations themselves, of imposing universal solidarity and cooperation among all human communities.
When applied to the recent tension in Korea, this means: IF the war explodes, it will be necessary and inevitable; IF war will not explode, it was all a false alarm. This, according to Dupuy, is also how we should approach the prospect of nuclear (or ecological) catastrophe: not to “realistically” appraise the possibilities of the catastrophe, but to accept it as our fate, as unavoidable, and then, on the background of this acceptance, we should mobilize ourselves to perform the act which will change destiny itself and thereby insert a new possibility into the situation. Instead of saying “the future is still open, we still have the time to act and prevent the worst,” one should accept the catastrophe as inevitable, and then work to undo what is already “written in the stars” as our destiny.

What is needed is no less than a new global anti-nuclear movement, a global mobilization that would exert pressure on nuclear powers and act aggressively, organizing mass protests and boycotts, while denouncing our leaders as criminals and the like. It should focus not only on North Korea but also on those super-powers who assume the right to monopolize nuclear weapons. The very public mention of the use of nuclear weapons should be treated as a criminal offense. And more than that, a global change in our stance is needed, what Peter Sloterdijk calls “the domestication of the wild animal culture.”

Till now, each culture disciplined and educated its own members and guaranteed civic peace among them in the guise of state power, but the relationship between different cultures and states was permanently under the shadow of potential war, with each state of peace nothing more than a temporary armistice. As Hegel conceptualized it, the entire ethic of a state culminates in the highest act of heroism, the readiness to sacrifice one’s life for one’s nation-state, which means that the wild barbarian relations between states serve as the foundation of the ethical life within a state. Is today’s North Korea with its ruthless pursuit of nuclear weapons, and rockets to deliver them to distant targets, not the ultimate example of this logic of unconditional nation-state sovereignty?

However, the moment we fully accept the fact that we live on Spaceship Earth, the task that urgently imposes itself is that of civilizing civilizations themselves, of imposing universal solidarity and cooperation among all human communities. A task rendered all the more difficult by the ongoing rise of sectarian religious and ethnic “heroic” violence and readiness to sacrifice oneself (and the world) for one’s specific cause.

-Slavoj Zizek, "Korean nuclear tension: Apocalypse... almost now"

Carbon Credits are Bunk Utopian Dreams!

“The Savage nodded, frowning. "You got rid of them. Yes, that's just like you. Getting rid of everything unpleasant instead of learning to put up with it. Whether 'tis better in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows or outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them...But you don't do either. Neither suffer nor oppose. You just abolish the slings and arrows. It's too easy."

..."What you need," the Savage went on, "is something with tears for a change. Nothing costs enough here.
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
---
“Isn't there something in living dangerously?'

There's a great deal in it,' the Controller replied. 'Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.'

What?' questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.

It's one of the conditions of perfect health. That's why we've made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.'

V.P.S.?'

Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It's the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconvenience.'

But I like the inconveniences.'

We don't,' said the Controller. 'We prefer to do things comfortably.'

But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.'

In fact,' said Mustapha Mond, 'you're claiming the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer, the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.' There was a long silence.

I claim them all,' said the Savage at last.

Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. 'You're welcome,' he said.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
---
“I like being myself. Myself and nasty.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
---
“No social stability without individual stability.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
---
“...reality, however utopian, is something from which people feel the need of taking pretty frequent holidays....”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World
---
“Ending is better than mending.”
― Aldous Huxley, Brave New World

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Father William (x2)

"You are old, father William," the young man cried,
"The few locks which are left you are grey;
You are hale, father William, a hearty old man;
Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"In the days of my youth," father William replied,
"I remember'd that youth would fly fast,
And abus'd not my health and my vigour at first,
That I never might need them at last.

"You are old, father William," the young man cried,
"And pleasures with youth pass away.
And yet you lament not the days that are gone;
Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"In the days of my youth," father William replied,
"I remember'd that youth could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,
That I never might grieve for the past."

"You are old, father William," the young man cried,
"And life must be hast'ning away;
You are cheerful and love to converse upon death;
Now tell me the reason, I pray."

"I am cheerful, young man," father William replied,
"Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember'd my God!
And He hath not forgotten my age."
-Robert Southey, "The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them" (1799)

---
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"

"In my youth," Father William replied to his son,
"I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."

"You are old," said the youth, "As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?"

"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling a box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."

"You are old," said the youth, "one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"
-Lewis Carroll, "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" (1865)

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Crush

Body so fit
So full of spark
With affirmations
As your wall art
You were driven
Eyes on the prize
A yoga routine
home exercise

Now like the faded star
In sunset blvd
I play the devoted butler
Morning coffees by the bed
while all hard fought endeavours
bring in diminished returns
You’re so cool, it’s true
You’re my kind of girl
Keep you ’til the end

Find solace in the privilege to pursue
Most people are crushed into servitude
The Democratic Man

Friday, September 15, 2017

Hurricane Irma will happen again – so we need the answers to some difficult questions about global politics.

from The Independent
What if northern Siberia becomes more inhabitable and appropriate for agriculture, while large sub-Saharan regions become too dry for a large population to live there – how will the exchange of populations be organised? And what if a new gigantic volcanic eruption makes the whole of an island uninhabitable – where will the people of that island move?

---

Reading and watching reports on the devastating effect of Hurricane Irma this week, I was reminded of Trisolaris, a strange planet from The Three-Body Problem, Liu Cixin’s sci-fi masterpiece.

A scientist is drawn into a virtual reality game called “Three Body” in which players find themselves on the alien planet Trisolaris whose three suns rise and set at strange and unpredictable intervals: sometimes far too far away and horribly cold, sometimes far too close and destructively hot, and sometimes not seen for long periods of time.

Life is a constant struggle against apparently unpredictable elements. Despite that, players slowly find ways to build civilisations and attempt to predict the strange cycles of heat and cold.

Do phenomena like Irma not demonstrate that our Earth itself is gradually turning into Trisolaris? Devastating hurricanes, droughts and floods warming – do they all not indicate that we are witnessing something the only appropriate name for which is “the end of nature”? “Nature” is to be understood here in the traditional sense of a regular rhythm of seasons, the reliable background of human history, something on which we can count to always be there.

It is difficult for an outsider to imagine how it feels when a vast domain of densely populated land disappears underwater, so that millions are deprived of the very basic coordinates of their life-world: the land with its fields, but also with its cultural monuments, is no longer there, so that, although in the midst of water, they are in a way like fishes out of water – it is as if the environs thousands of generations were taking as the most obvious foundation of their lives start to crack.

Similar catastrophes were, of course, known for centuries, some even from the very prehistory of humanity. What is new today is that, since we live in a “disenchanted” post-religious era, such catastrophes can no longer be rendered meaningful as part of a larger natural cycle or as an expression of divine wrath.

This is how, back in 1906, William James described his reaction to an earthquake: “Emotion consisted wholly of glee, and admiration. Glee at the vividness which such an abstract idea as 'earthquake' could take on when verified concretely and translated into sensible reality ... and admiration at the way in which the frail little wooden house could hold itself together in spite of such a shaking. I felt no trace whatever of fear; it was pure delight and welcome.” How far we are here from the shattering of the very foundations of one's life-world!

Nature is more and more in disorder, not because it overwhelms our cognitive capacities but primarily because we are not able to master the effects of our own interventions into its course – who knows what the ultimate consequences of our biogenetic engineering or of global warming will be?

The surprise comes from ourselves, it concerns the opacity of how we ourselves fit into the picture: the impenetrable stain in the picture is not some cosmic mystery like a mysterious explosion of a supernova: the stain are we ourselves, our collective activity. This is what we call “Anthropocene”: a new epoch in the life of our planet in which we, humans, cannot any longer rely on the Earth as a reservoir ready to absorb the consequences of our productive activity.

We have to accept that we live on a “Spaceship Earth”, responsible and accountable for its conditions. At the very moment when we become powerful enough to affect the most basic conditions of our life, we have to accept that we are just another animal species on a small planet. A new way to relate to our enviroment is necessary once we realise this: we should become modest agents collaborating with our environs, permanently negotiating a tolerable level of stability, with no inherent formula which guarantees our safety.

Does this mean that we should assume a defensive approach and search for a new limit, a return to (or, rather, the invention of) some new balance? This is what the predominant ecology proposes us to do, and the same task is pursued by bioethics with regard to biotechnology: biotechnology pursues new possibilities of scientific interventions (genetic manipulations, cloning and so on), and bioethics endeavours to impose moral limitations on what biotechnology enables us to do.

As such, bioethics is not immanent to scientific practice: it intervenes into this practice from the outside, imposing external morality onto it. One can even say that bioethics is the betrayal of the aims of scientific endeavour, the aims which say: “Do not compromise your scientific desire; follow inexorably its path.” Such attempts at limitation fail because they ignore the fact that there is no objective limit: we are discovering that the object itself – nature – is not stable.

Sceptics like to point out the limitation of our knowledge about what goes on in nature – however, this limitation in no way implies that we should not exaggerate the ecological threat. On the contrary, we should be even more careful about it, since the situation is profoundly unpredictable. The recent uncertainties about global warming do not signal that things are not too serious, but that they are even more chaotic than we thought, and that natural and social factors are inextricably linked.

Can we then use capitalism itself against this threat? Although capitalism can easily turn ecology into a new field of capitalist investment and competition, the very nature of the risk involved fundamentally precludes a market solution – why?

Capitalism only works in precise social conditions: it implies the trust into the objectivised mechanism of the market’s “invisible hand” which, as a kind of Cunning of Reason, guarantees that the competition of individual egotisms works for the common good. However, we are in the midst of a radical change: what looms on the horizon today is the unheard-of possibility that a subjective intervention will trigger an ecological catastrophe, a fateful biogenetic mutation, a nuclear or similar military-social catastrophy, and so on. For the first time in human history, the act of a single socio-political agent effectively can alter and even interrupt the global historical and even natural process.

Jean-Pierre Dupuy refers to the theory of complex systems which accounts for their two opposite features: their robust stable character and their extreme vulnerability. These systems can accommodate themselves to great disturbances, integrate them and find new balance and stability – up to a certain threshold (a “tipping point”) above which a small disturbance can cause a total catastrophe and lead to the establishment of a totally different order.

For long centuries, humanity did not have to worry about the impact on the enviroment of its productive activities – nature was able to accommodate itself to deforestation, to the use of coal and oil, and so on. However, one cannot be sure if, today, we are not approaching a tipping point – one really cannot be sure, since such points can be clearly perceived only once it is already too late, in retrospect.

Apropos of the urgency to do something about today's threat of different ecological catastrophes: either we take this threat seriously and decide today to do things which, if the catastrophe will not occur, will appear ridiculous; or we do nothing and lose everything in the case of catastrophe. The worst case scenario would be to take a "middle ground" solution with a limited amount of measures – in this case, we will fail as there is no middle ground in reality. In such a situation, the talk about anticipation, precaution and risk control tends to become meaningless.

This is why there is something deceptively reassuring in the readiness of the theorists of anthropocene to blame us, humans, for the threats to our environment: we like to be guilty since, if we are guilty, then it all depends on us. We pull the strings of the catastrophe, so we can also save ourselves simply by changing our lives. What is really difficult for us (at least for us in the West) to accept is that we are also (to some unknown degree) impotent observers who can only sit and watch what their fate will be.

To avoid such a situation, we are prone to engage in a frantic obsessive activity, recycle old paper, buy organic food, whatever, just so that we can be sure that we are doing something, making our contribution – like a soccer fan who supports his team in front of a TV screen at home, shouting and jumping from his seat, in a superstitious belief that this will somehow influence the outcome.

The main lesson to be learned is therefore that humankind should get ready to live in a more flexible or nomadic way: local or global changes in environment may impose the need for unheard — of large scale social tranformations.

Let us say that a new gigantic volcanic eruption makes the whole of an island uninhabitable – where will the people of that island move? 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 appropriate for agriculture, while large sub-Saharan regions become too dry for a large population to live there – how will the exchange of populations be organised?

When similar things happened in the past, social changes occurred in a wild and spontaneous way, with violence and destruction. Such a prospect would be catastrophic in today's conditions, with arms of mass destruction available to all nations.

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 consummation due to new weather patterns or shortages of water and energy sources? Through what processes of decision will such changes be decided and executed? It’s time to answer these difficult questions.
-Slavoj Zizek, "Hurricane Irma will happen again – so we need the answers to some difficult questions about global politics"

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Hurricane Tips!

Gay Shakepeare

A woman's face with Nature's own hand painted
Hast thou, the master-mistress of my passion;
A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women's fashion;
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue, all hues in his controlling,
Much steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.
- William Shakespeare, "Sonnet XX"

Monday, September 11, 2017

Tolerance is NOT About Understanding

And the trees about me,
Let them be dry and leafless; let the rocks
Groan with continual surges; and behind me
Make all a desolation.
Look, look, wenches!

PAINT me a cavernous waste shore
Cast in the unstilled Cyclades,
Paint me the bold anfractuous rocks
Faced by the snarled and yelping seas.

Display me Aeolus above
Reviewing the insurgent gales
Which tangle Ariadne’s hair
And swell with haste the perjured sails.

Morning stirs the feet and hands
(Nausicaa and Polypheme).

Gesture of orang-outang
Rises from the sheets in steam.

This withered root of knots of hair
Slitted below and gashed with eyes,
This oval O cropped out with teeth:
The sickle motion from the thighs

Jackknifes upward at the knees
Then straightens out from heel to hip
Pushing the framework of the bed
And clawing at the pillow slip.

Sweeney addressed full length to shave
Broadbottomed, pink from nape to base,
Knows the female temperament
And wipes the suds around his face.

(The lengthened shadow of a man
Is history, said Emerson
Who had not seen the silhouette
Of Sweeney straddled in the sun.)

Tests the razor on his leg
Waiting until the shriek subsides.

The epileptic on the bed
Curves backward, clutching at her sides.

The ladies of the corridor
Find themselves involved, disgraced,
Call witness to their principles
And deprecate the lack of taste

Observing that hysteria
Might easily be misunderstood;
Mrs. Turner intimates
It does the house no sort of good.

But Doris, towelled from the bath,
Enters padding on broad feet,
Bringing sal volatile
And a glass of brandy neat.
- Thomas Stearns Eliot, "Sweeney Erect" (1920)
William McGregor Paxton, "(Odysseus and) Nausicaa"

Enjoy the Silence

Words like violence
Break the silence
Come crashing in
Into my little world
Painful to me
Pierce right through me
Can't you understand?
Oh my little girl

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Vows are spoken
To be broken
Feelings are intense
Words are trivial
Pleasures remain
So does the pain
Words are meaningless
And forgettable

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

All I ever wanted
All I ever needed
Is here in my arms
Words are very unnecessary
They can only do harm

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Psychosomatic Illnesses....

E.A. Poe, "The Masque of the Red Death"

THE "Red Death" had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal -- the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains, and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim, were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour.

But the Prince Prospero was happy and dauntless and sagacious. When his dominions were half depopulated, he summoned to his presence a thousand hale and light-hearted friends from among the knights and dames of his court, and with these retired to the deep seclusion of one of his castellated abbeys. This was an extensive and magnificent structure, the creation of the prince's own eccentric yet august taste. A strong and lofty wall girdled it in. This wall had gates of iron. The courtiers, having entered, brought furnaces and massy hammers and welded the bolts. They resolved to leave means neither of ingress or egress to the sudden impulses of despair or of frenzy from within. The abbey was amply provisioned. With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. But first let me tell of the rooms in which it was held. There were seven -- an imperial suite. In many palaces, however, such suites form a long and straight vista, while the folding doors slide back nearly to the walls on either hand, so that the view of the whole extent is scarcely impeded. Here the case was very different; as might have been expected from the duke's love of the bizarre. The apartments were so irregularly disposed that the vision embraced but little more than one at a time. There was a sharp turn at every twenty or thirty yards, and at each turn a novel effect. To the right and left, in the middle of each wall, a tall and narrow Gothic window looked out upon a closed corridor which pursued the windings of the suite. These windows were of stained glass whose color varied in accordance with the prevailing hue of the decorations of the chamber into which it opened. That at the eastern extremity was hung, for example, in blue -- and vividly blue were its windows. The second chamber was purple in its ornaments and tapestries, and here the panes were purple. The third was green throughout, and so were the casements. The fourth was furnished and lighted with orange -- the fifth with white -- the sixth with violet. The seventh apartment was closely shrouded in black velvet tapestries that hung all over the ceiling and down the walls, falling in heavy folds upon a carpet of the same material and hue. But in this chamber only, the color of the windows failed to correspond with the decorations. The panes here were scarlet -- a deep blood color. Now in no one of the seven apartments was there any lamp or candelabrum, amid the profusion of golden ornaments that lay scattered to and fro or depended from the roof. There was no light of any kind emanating from lamp or candle within the suite of chambers. But in the corridors that followed the suite, there stood, opposite to each window, a heavy tripod, bearing a brazier of fire that protected its rays through the tinted glass and so glaringly illumined the room. And thus were produced a multitude of gaudy and fantastic appearances. But in the western or black chamber the effect of the fire-light that streamed upon the dark hangings through the blood-tinted panes, was ghastly in the extreme, and produced so wild a look upon the countenances of those who entered, that there were few of the company bold enough to set foot within its precincts at all.

It was in this apartment, also, that there stood against the western wall, a gigantic clock of ebony. Its pendulum swung to and fro with a dull, heavy, monotonous clang; and when the minute-hand made the circuit of the face, and the hour was to be stricken, there came from the brazen lungs of the clock a sound which was clear and loud and deep and exceedingly musical, but of so peculiar a note and emphasis that, at each lapse of an hour, the musicians of the orchestra were constrained to pause, momentarily, in their performance, to hearken to the sound; and thus the waltzers perforce ceased their evolutions; and there was a brief disconcert of the whole gay company; and, while the chimes of the clock yet rang, it was observed that the giddiest grew pale, and the more aged and sedate passed their hands over their brows as if in confused reverie or meditation. But when the echoes had fully ceased, a light laughter at once pervaded the assembly; the musicians looked at each other and smiled as if at their own nervousness and folly, and made whispering vows, each to the other, that the next chiming of the clock should produce in them no similar emotion; and then, after the lapse of sixty minutes, (which embrace three thousand and six hundred seconds of the Time that flies,) there came yet another chiming of the clock, and then were the same disconcert and tremulousness and meditation as before.

But, in spite of these things, it was a gay and magnificent revel. The tastes of the duke were peculiar. He had a fine eye for colors and effects. He disregarded the decora of mere fashion. His plans were bold and fiery, and his conceptions glowed with barbaric lustre. There are some who would have thought him mad. His followers felt that he was not. It was necessary to hear and see and touch him to be sure that he was not.

He had directed, in great part, the moveable embellishments of the seven chambers, upon occasion of this great fete; and it was his own guiding taste which had given character to the masqueraders. Be sure they were grotesque. There were much glare and glitter and piquancy and phantasm -- much of what has been since seen in "Hernani." There were arabesque figures with unsuited limbs and appointments. There were delirious fancies such as the madman fashions. There was much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which might have excited disgust. To and fro in the seven chambers there stalked, in fact, a multitude of dreams. And these -- the dreams -- writhed in and about, taking hue from the rooms, and causing the wild music of the orchestra to seem as the echo of their steps. And, anon, there strikes the ebony clock which stands in the hall of the velvet. And then, for a moment, all is still, and all is silent save the voice of the clock. The dreams are stiff-frozen as they stand. But the echoes of the chime die away -- they have endured but an instant -- and a light, half-subdued laughter floats after them as they depart. And now again the music swells, and the dreams live, and writhe to and fro more merrily than ever, taking hue from the many-tinted windows through which stream the rays from the tripods. But to the chamber which lies most westwardly of the seven, there are now none of the maskers who venture; for the night is waning away; and there flows a ruddier light through the blood-colored panes; and the blackness of the sable drapery appals; and to him whose foot falls upon the sable carpet, there comes from the near clock of ebony a muffled peal more solemnly emphatic than any which reaches their ears who indulge in the more remote gaieties of the other apartments.

But these other apartments were densely crowded, and in them beat feverishly the heart of life. And the revel went whirlingly on, until at length there commenced the sounding of midnight upon the clock. And then the music ceased, as I have told; and the evolutions of the waltzers were quieted; and there was an uneasy cessation of all things as before. But now there were twelve strokes to be sounded by the bell of the clock; and thus it happened, perhaps, that more of thought crept, with more of time, into the meditations of the thoughtful among those who revelled. And thus, too, it happened, perhaps, that before the last echoes of the last chime had utterly sunk into silence, there were many individuals in the crowd who had found leisure to become aware of the presence of a masked figure which had arrested the attention of no single individual before. And the rumor of this new presence having spread itself whisperingly around, there arose at length from the whole company a buzz, or murmur, expressive of disapprobation and surprise -- then, finally, of terror, of horror, and of disgust.

In an assembly of phantasms such as I have painted, it may well be supposed that no ordinary appearance could have excited such sensation. In truth the masquerade license of the night was nearly unlimited; but the figure in question had out-Heroded Herod, and gone beyond the bounds of even the prince's indefinite decorum. There are chords in the hearts of the most reckless which cannot be touched without emotion. Even with the utterly lost, to whom life and death are equally jests, there are matters of which no jest can be made. The whole company, indeed, seemed now deeply to feel that in the costume and bearing of the stranger neither wit nor propriety existed. The figure was tall and gaunt, and shrouded from head to foot in the habiliments of the grave. The mask which concealed the visage was made so nearly to resemble the countenance of a stiffened corpse that the closest scrutiny must have had difficulty in detecting the cheat. And yet all this might have been endured, if not approved, by the mad revellers around. But the mummer had gone so far as to assume the type of the Red Death. His vesture was dabbled in blood -- and his broad brow, with all the features of the face, was besprinkled with the scarlet horror.

When the eyes of Prince Prospero fell upon this spectral image (which with a slow and solemn movement, as if more fully to sustain its role, stalked to and fro among the waltzers) he was seen to be convulsed, in the first moment with a strong shudder either of terror or distaste; but, in the next, his brow reddened with rage.

"Who dares?" he demanded hoarsely of the courtiers who stood near him -- "who dares insult us with this blasphemous mockery? Seize him and unmask him -- that we may know whom we have to hang at sunrise, from the battlements!"

It was in the eastern or blue chamber in which stood the Prince Prospero as he uttered these words. They rang throughout the seven rooms loudly and clearly -- for the prince was a bold and robust man, and the music had become hushed at the waving of his hand.

It was in the blue room where stood the prince, with a group of pale courtiers by his side. At first, as he spoke, there was a slight rushing movement of this group in the direction of the intruder, who at the moment was also near at hand, and now, with deliberate and stately step, made closer approach to the speaker. But from a certain nameless awe with which the mad assumptions of the mummer had inspired the whole party, there were found none who put forth hand to seize him; so that, unimpeded, he passed within a yard of the prince's person; and, while the vast assembly, as if with one impulse, shrank from the centres of the rooms to the walls, he made his way uninterruptedly, but with the same solemn and measured step which had distinguished him from the first, through the blue chamber to the purple -- through the purple to the green -- through the green to the orange -- through this again to the white -- and even thence to the violet, ere a decided movement had been made to arrest him. It was then, however, that the Prince Prospero, maddening with rage and the shame of his own momentary cowardice, rushed hurriedly through the six chambers, while none followed him on account of a deadly terror that had seized upon all. He bore aloft a drawn dagger, and had approached, in rapid impetuosity, to within three or four feet of the retreating figure, when the latter, having attained the extremity of the velvet apartment, turned suddenly and confronted his pursuer. There was a sharp cry -- and the dagger dropped gleaming upon the sable carpet, upon which, instantly afterwards, fell prostrate in death the Prince Prospero. Then, summoning the wild courage of despair, a throng of the revellers at once threw themselves into the black apartment, and, seizing the mummer, whose tall figure stood erect and motionless within the shadow of the ebony clock, gasped in unutterable horror at finding the grave-cerements and corpse-like mask which they handled with so violent a rudeness, untenanted by any tangible form.

And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Impending Doom...

The impending doom seals our fate
All our work is to culminate
For force majeure is at hand
To swiftly bring what is planned
In the penultimate hour, the chance has gone
The wonders lost are never known
Lonesome moments of contrite
Wondering if we were right
Judgement day shall come for all
Were we misled, always destined to take that fall
Or did we know, the sacrifice
Made for the betterment of mankind
Are we the martyrs of our time
Expecting grace for our crime
Has our knowing, nulled the just
Or were our actions just enough
Moral fortitude tipping the scale
Releasing us from the sale
These are but the humble thoughts of one
Knowing not what I am to become
- Tim Miller, "Impending Doom"

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Courage!

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
I was brain-dead, locked out, numb, not up to speed
I thought I'd pegged you an idiot's dream
Tunnel vision from the outsider's screen
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh
You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh

I'd studied your cartoons, radio, music, TV, movies, magazines
Richard said, "Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy"
A smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" is your Benzedrine, uh-huh
Butterfly decal, rear-view mirror, dogging the scene
You smile like the cartoon, tooth for a tooth
You said that irony was the shackles of youth
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I never understood the frequency, uh-huh

You wore our expectations like an armored suit, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You said that irony was the shackles of youth, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
You wore a shirt of violent green, uh-huh
I couldn't understand
I never understood, don't fuck with me, uh-huh

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Withering Nation State

from Wikipedia:
Withering away of the state is a concept of Marxism, coined by Friedrich Engels, and referring to the idea that, with realization of the ideals of socialism, the social institution of a state will eventually become obsolete and disappear, as the society will be able to govern itself without the state and its coercive enforcement of the law.

Origin of the phrase

The phrase was coined by Engels[1] in Part 3, Chapter 2, of Anti-Dühring:
“ The interference of the state power in social relations becomes superfluous in one sphere after another, and then ceases of itself. The government of persons is replaced by the administration of things and the direction of the processes of production. The state is not "abolished", it withers away.[2] ”
Another related quote from Engels comes from Origins of the Family, Private Property, and the State:
“ The society which organizes production anew on the basis of free and equal association of the producers will put the whole state machinery where it will then belong—into the museum of antiquities, next to the spinning wheel and the bronze ax.[3][4] ”
Interpretations

Although Engels first introduced the idea of the withering away of the state, he attributed the underlying concept to Karl Marx; other Marxist theorists—including Vladimir Lenin—would later expand on it.[1][3] According to this concept of the withering away of the state, eventually a communist society will no longer require coercion to induce individuals to behave in a way that benefits the society.[1][2] Such a society would occur after a temporary period of the dictatorship of the proletariat.[2]

It proceeds from the concept of the transformation of the state in the previous stage of society called socialism. In socialism, Engels posits that, similar to the arguments made by Henri de Saint-Simon before him, that in a socialist society, public organization would become primarily concerned with technical issues such as the optimal allocation of resources and determination of production as opposed to drafting and enforcing laws, and thus the traditional state functions would gradually become irrelevant and unnecessary for the functioning of society. Engels argued that the state transforms itself from a "government of people, but the administration of things", and thus would not be a state in the traditional sense of the term.

This scenario depended on Marx's view of coercive power as a tool of those who own the means of production, i.e. certain social classes (the bourgeoisie) and the capitalist state.[2][3] In a communist society the social classes would disappear and the means of production would have no single owner; hence, such a stateless society will no longer require law, and stateless communist society will develop.[1][2][3][5]

The concept of the withering away of the state differentiates traditional Marxism from state socialism (which accepted the retention of the institution of the state) and antistatist anarchism (which demanded the immediate abolition of the state, with no perceived need for any "temporary", postrevolutionary institution of the state).[2]

In the Soviet Marxism of the Soviet Union, Lenin supported the idea of the "withering away of the state" as seen in his The State and Revolution (1917). Joseph Stalin's government mentioned it occasionally, but did not believe the world was yet in the advanced stage of development where the state could wither away. Stalin believed in the short-term need for building a strong Communist-controlled state primarily for defense against external enemies. Thus, the Stalin-era Soviet Union marginalized the notion of the withering of the state.[2]
The Protean Subjects Achieve Dominance

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What Does 'Freedom' Mean?

And an orator said, "Speak to us of Freedom."
And he answered:
At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom,
Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.
Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.
And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.
You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief,
But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.
And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour?
In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle the eyes.
And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free?
If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead.
You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them.
And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed.
For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud, but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their won pride?
And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you.
And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.
Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape.
These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling.
And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.
-Khalil Gibran, "Freedom Xiv"

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Welcome to my Hyper-Reality!

And nobody spoke for you
In the sea of tranquility
Only you were there, you didn't do, you didn't think,
You were
You are still
We are all there is
Everything that is
Shines within, shines without
Shines into you
Shines out from you
Spirits give you gifts when you listen for them
Windows play you music, play alive organic movies when you open them
Language clears your path for you
And language builds the world you live in
AM poems, based on dreams, mutated from the PM thoughts,
Which came from all that came to pass
And came to be that day
And all of that originated in the first ideas put forth in
AM poems, closing the loop,
And keeping us in wonder, how does this reality, all unreality, all hyperreality
Come to be and create itself and undo itself all at once?
-Owen Phillips, "The Self-Creating Loop" (Apr 2013)

Friday, September 1, 2017

Shifted Focus

They say eyes clear with age,
As dew clarifies air
To sharpen evenings,
As if time put an edge
Round the last shape of things
To show them there;
The many-levelled trees,
The long soft tides of grass
Wrinkling away the gold
Wind-ridden waves- all these,
They say, come back to focus
As we grow old.
- Philip Larkin, "Long Sight In Age"

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Caveat Ingestor!

Surely, I said, knowledge is the food of the soul; and we must take care, my friend, that the Sophist does not deceive us when he praises what he sells, like the dealers wholesale or retail who sell the food of the body; for they praise indiscriminately all their goods, without knowing what are really beneficial or hurtful: neither do their customers know, with the exception of any trainer or physician who may happen to buy of them. In like manner those who carry about the wares of knowledge, and make the round of the cities, and sell or retail them to any customer who is in want of them, praise them all alike; though I should not wonder, O my friend, if many of them were really ignorant of their effect upon the soul; and their customers equally ignorant, unless he who buys of them happens to be a physician of the soul. If, therefore, you have understanding of what is good and evil, you may safely buy knowledge of Protagoras or of any one; but if not, then, O my friend, pause, and do not hazard your dearest interests at a game of chance. For there is far greater peril in buying knowledge than in buying meat and drink: the one you purchase of the wholesale or retail dealer, and carry them away in other vessels, and before you receive them into the body as food, you may deposit them at home and call in any experienced friend who knows what is good to be eaten or drunken, and what not, and how much, and when; and then the danger of purchasing them is not so great. But you cannot buy the wares of knowledge and carry them away in another vessel; when you have paid for them you must receive them into the soul and go your way, either greatly harmed or greatly benefited; and therefore we should deliberate and take counsel with our elders; for we are still young—too young to determine such a matter. And now let us go, as we were intending, and hear Protagoras; and when we have heard what he has to say, we may take counsel of others; for not only is Protagoras at the house of Callias, but there is Hippias of Elis, and, if I am not mistaken, Prodicus of Ceos, and several other wise men.
- Plato, "Protagoras"
---
"fidelity to a simulacrum, unlike fidelity to an event, regulates its break with the situation not by the universality of the void, but by the closed particularity of an abstract set ... (ie- the 'Germans' or the 'Aryans')"
-Alain Badiou, in speaking with reference to Nazism about Evil

Friday, August 25, 2017

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Utopia!


More

Communism is Totalitarianism. No Dissent is Permitted

...this is why the Frankfurt School ONLY criticized Fascism and couldn't criticize Stalin. This is why Progressives renounce white culture and adopt so-called "universal" reason. Enter Antifa...
The big headlines cause sensation,
Media’s chosen information.
Manipulative, they entomb
the big elephant in the room.

Stress is put on the suggestive
keeping tongue and the mind active.
They sweep aside with furtive broom
the big elephant in the room.

Gain is high on the agenda
grabbing votes in referenda.
They hide, on purpose, I presume
the big elephant in the room.

Many topics are selective;
they are made to look attractive.
Who dares to tickle with a plume
the big elephant in the room?
Poet Destoyer A, "There is an Elephant in the Room" (2013)
---
Fast forward, effort always towards its own
that crisis, intervention, scores self honed
as cover-up becomes the message stoned,
the smallest to the large, their brink is known!

Manipulative, truth as hard as bone
that fleshly intervention, yours, is prone
to that denying session of false tone,
a lie, a small concession, takes you home!

Manipulate, aggression thereby flown
to aggravate recession, scuttles grown,
how soon the battle wages, without shown
of truth's conditions, pages stifled, blown!

Manipulated, soldiering's resound
to save the Nation stages, first impound
as cruel effigy ~ the struggle's crown
is from a distant shoreline, their compound!

No mystery, the guidelines of deceit
have long been brandished, ominous repeat
together meant, now solemn to the feat
opposing as the answer, not retreat ~

Manipulate ~ that Spirit . . . must be beat!
Paula Larson, "The Manipulative" (2013)

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

I See NAZI's!

Let those who will of friendship sing,
And to its guerdon grateful be,
But I a lyric garland bring
To crown thee, O, mine enemy!

Thanks, endless thanks, to thee I owe
For that my lifelong journey through
Thine honest hate has done for me
What love perchance had failed to do.


I had not scaled such weary heights
But that I held thy scorn in fear,
And never keenest lure might match
The subtle goading of thy sneer.


Thine anger struck from me a fire
That purged all dull content away,
Our mortal strife to me has been
Unflagging spur from day to day.


And thus, while all the world may laud
The gifts of love and loyalty,
I lay my meed of gratitude
Before thy feet, mine enemy!
Lucy Maud Montgomery, "To My Enemy"

Sunday, August 20, 2017

No History!

No history
No repent
No surrender
No descent

No commandments on the wall
No god, no rules to scare you all

I'm here to take you forwards
You gotta kill your stupid fears
You got your whole life
You'll need a sharp knife
Don't wait!

Cut through the system's rules
Less is more for the fucking fools
If you wanna take the prize
You got a world to fight
Go on!

No history
No repent
No surrender
No descent

No commandments on the wall
No god, no rules to scare you all

Some rhythms must remain
Unbroken riots in reverse
You take the front line
I'll find a good rhyme
Get to it!

Don't cling to faking scores
The base is solid and in place
Just take the first cut
We'll get the time right
Don't wait!

Use the wisdom of ancient sages
Call out for heroes
Who will be the creed
Of a new political faith

Use the language of misunderstanding
Disguise it
Occupy Wall Street
And judge the intentions of those we don't trust


No history
No repent
No surrender
No descent

No commandments on the wall
No god, no rules to scare you all

No history
No repent
No surrender
No descent

No commandments on the wall
No god, no rules to scare you all

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Simplicity

Let the bird of loudest lay,
On the sole Arabian tree,
Herald sad and trumpet be,
To whose sound chaste wings obey.

But thou, shrieking harbinger,
Foul pre-currer of the fiend,
Augur of the fever's end,
To this troop come thou not near.

From this session interdict
Every fowl of tyrant wing,
Save the eagle, feather'd king:
Keep the obsequy so strict.

Let the priest in surplice white,
That defunctive music can,
Be the death-defying swan,
Lest the requiem lack his right.

And thou, treble-dated crow,
That thy sable gender mak'st
With the breath thou giv'st and tak'st,
'Mongst our mourners shalt thou go.

Here the anthem doth commence:
Love and constancy is dead;
Phoenix and the turtle fled
In a mutual flame from hence.

So they lov'd, as love in twain
Had the essence but in one;
Two distincts, division none:
Number there in love was slain.

Hearts remote, yet not asunder;
Distance, and no space was seen
'Twixt the turtle and his queen;
But in them it were a wonder.

So between them love did shine,
That the turtle saw his right
Flaming in the phoenix' sight:
Either was the other's mine.

Property was thus appall'd,
That the self was not the same;
Single nature's double name
Neither two nor one was call'd.

Reason, in itself confounded,
Saw division grow together;
To themselves yet either-neither,
Simple were so well compounded.

That it cried how true a twain
Seemeth this concordant one!
Love hath reason, reason none
If what parts can so remain.

Whereupon it made this threne
To the phoenix and the dove,
Co-supreme and stars of love;
As chorus to their tragic scene.

THRENOS.

Beauty, truth, and rarity.

Grace in all simplicity,
Here enclos'd in cinders lie.

Death is now the phoenix' nest;
And the turtle's loyal breast
To eternity doth rest,

Leaving no posterity:--
'Twas not their infirmity,
It was married chastity.

Truth may seem, but cannot be:
Beauty brag, but 'tis not she;
Truth and beauty buried be.

To this urn let those repair
That are either true or fair;
For these dead birds sigh a prayer.
- William Shakespeare, "The Phoenix and the Turtle" (1601)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Monday, August 14, 2017

Riffing Hubristic

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Who's Rage Matters? Who's Fears?

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

The Power of Nightmares

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

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

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

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

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Salmagundi

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

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

---

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, August 4, 2017

The iMom

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

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

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Saving Face in a Democracy...



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Lila's Sketchbook

My sketchbook is worn.

All of its pages are torn.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vor Sonnen-Aufgang (Before Sunrise)

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Progressives Who Would Kill Don Trumpote

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

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

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

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

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