There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism. Alexander Hamilton
Howard, it’s Bateman, Patrick Bateman. You’re my lawyer so I think you should know: I’ve killed a lot of people. Some girls in the apartment uptown uh, some homeless people maybe 5 or 10 um an NYU girl I met in Central Park. I left her in a parking lot behind some donut shop. I killed Bethany, my old girlfriend, with a nail gun, and some man uh some old faggot with a dog last week. I killed another girl with a chainsaw, I had to, she almost got away and uh someone else there I can’t remember maybe a model, but she’s dead too. And Paul Allen. I killed Paul Allen with an axe in the face, his body is dissolving in a bathtub in Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t want to leave anything out here. I guess I’ve killed maybe 20 people, maybe 40. I have tapes of a lot of it, uh some of the girls have seen the tapes. I even, um… I ate some of their brains, and I tried to cook a little. Tonight I, uh, I just had to kill a LOT of people. And I’m not sure I’m gonna get away with it this time. I guess I’ll uh, I mean, ah, I guess I’m a pretty uh, I mean I guess I’m a pretty sick guy. So, if you get back tomorrow, I may show up at Harry’s Bar, so you know, keep your eyes open. Patrick Bateman
You know that being an American is more than a matter of where your parents came from. It is a belief that all men are created free and equal and that everyone deserves an even break. Harry Truman
Hey, I’m a child of divorce, gimme a break! Patrick Bateman
And I said, I don’t care if they lay me off either, because I told, I told Bill that if they move my desk one more time, then, then I’m, I’m quitting, I’m going to quit. And, and I told Don too, because they’ve moved my desk four times already this year, and I used to be over by the window, and I could see the squirrels, and they were merry, but then, they switched from the Swingline to the Boston stapler, but I kept my Swingline stapler because it didn’t bind up as much, and I kept the staples for the Swingline stapler and it’s not okay because if they take my stapler then I’ll set the building on fire… Milton Waddams
“There no longer does seem to be any organic relationship between the American history we learn from schoolbooks and the lived experience of the current, multinational, high-rise, stagflation city of the newspapers and of our own everyday life”. Fredric Jameson
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. Dr. Johnson
(ed. note: Sorry if this makes less sense than usual as it’s being done in a bit of a rush. There was a second longer segement to this post that’s pretty complicated, but it will have to wait until next weekend. Long story short -I have a limited amount to time this afternoon to knock this much out, shower, shave, and press some clothes so we can go sit politely and listen to several local pols extol the virtues of some guy we never met.)
This was the week where all the kids could talk about was a phone conversation between a one-time game show host and a former tv comic. As of last Friday that means we’ve gone from “What about her emails?” to “What about his phone calls?” while being told to keep the record player going for the sake of the children.
When did we start going backwards?
At this rate next year’s debates will center around the wheel and fire.
Bill Buckley used to say that he’d rather be governed by the first hundred people listed in the Cambridge phone book than the Harvard faculty. Any more I’d rather be governed by the first hundred Harvard kids walking across campus than the 100 Oldest People in North America. (tm pend.)
But that’s not why we’re here today.
We’re here because life has been out of control. While I said I’d blog more often it’s just been noblesse obilge-this and noblesse oblige-that. I’m pretty much at the end of my rope when it comes to pretending to be a respectable member of society as it takes me away from this platform and puts me weeks behind on the news cycle. Case in point – it’s been two weeks since Associate Bro of the United States Supreme Court, Brett Michael Kavanaugh wound up on the front page.
Did he do all those things he’s accused of?
Oh hell yes he did.
How do I know this?
Because I’m coming to it with a different perspective. First, let me say -at no time – will I claim to be all woke up and call myself a feminist. In fact, I can only stand aside and understand women’s stories of physical and emotional abuse in the abstract. Overall guys only have two opportunities to inadvertently come face to face with another guy’s junk – high school wrestling and college fraternity initiations. Since I took a flyer on all that character building/camaraderie the only thing I’m left with is my experience with the Go-Go 80s MBA psycho weasels.
Between 1985 and 1995 I worked for five different companies which no long exist. Each demise had many things in common. Some Patrick Bateman type would show up wearing a pink tie. He’d make a point of taking off his jacket so you could see his expensive suspenders and then he’d gather everybody together for a enthusiastic pep talk that featured no end of buzzwords and corporate weasel speak.
You know, corporate weasel speak.
For example – a few years ago when Chipoltle added botulism to the menu they wound up having to close for a week or so. The sign on the one in the neighborhood said, “This Experience Is Temporarily Unavailable.”
Hang gliding off the bluffs above the Oregon coast is an experience.
Chipotlte is an excuse to see if those Rolaids in the glove box still work.
Early on in that 10-year span the weasel would talk about how we are all family and family looks out for each other. Near the end of that stretch “team’ replaced ‘family’ and we were told a team has each others’ back on game day. Either way you’d come to work the following Monday to find that everybody on the third floor was gone which left you with the distinct impression you were next. If you were lucky you survived the first or second wave of layoffs, but sooner or later you were gone. Kinda like the high powered MBA schools based their root philosophy on the neutron bomb instead of Ayn Rand.
And how does Kavanaugh fit into all this?
I have no doubt that under those robes he’s wearing a power tie and holding his pants up with Brooks Brothers suspenders just like the other weasels and that’s why I believe everything those women said is the God’s honest truth.
Is that rational way to look at this?
Hell no, but then who has a rational take on anything these days.
My only consolation is all this is that Kavanaugh represents Peak Weasel. While Alaska Wolf Joe calls what we’re passing through ‘Late Stage Capitalism’ I prefer to think of it as the approaching era of Assisted Living Patrick Bateman. Sooner of later one of these guys is going to look around and find there’s nobody to layoff but himself. My hope that in their retreat the Miltons of the world will rise up like the proto-mammals after the demise of the dinosaurs. The Miltons will take their grief over what became of their staplers and they will channel into something constructive and the scourge of the Go-Go 80s will be behind us.
Congressional impeachment hearings and a trial in the Senate?
The only denizen of the Go-Go 80s who could be called a Hegelian world historical figure will be at the center of it all as neoliberalism’s golden age will reach its Wagnerian third act.
While we’re on the subject of the 80s, let’s roll this one out one more time as it seems to be in vogue again.
“That’s for damned sure! Barbed wire is barbed wire! I know what I’m up against! No rose without a thorn and the last thing I’ll stand for is ideas to get the better of me! I know that rubbish fraternity, equality, freedom,beauty and dignity! You gotta use the right bait to hook ’em nd then, you’re right in the middle of a parley and they say, “Hands up!” You’re disarmed! you republican voting swine! No, let ’em keep their good distance with their whole ideological kettle of fish, I shoot with live ammunition! When I hear the word culture, I release the safety on my Browning!” from Hanns Johst’s play Schlageter
We have what may be a first this month—the first example of one ’93er firing another. Tom Weber, who worked as an assistant sales manager for Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint, was axed by Gilbert & Parsons C.E.O. Pam Hawkinson, who writes that she should have known better than to hire the man who, at the “Not the Class Day” high jinks on the evening before our actual Class Day, was given the award for graduating with the most pages of assigned reading left unread. (“He has the get-up-and-go of a tree stump.”) Tom, who is considering a wrongful-termination suit under the Civil Rights Act (“She has an unreasoned hatred of Dekes”), writes that the working conditions at Gilbert & Parsons “compared unfavorably with those of the Gulag” and included the mandatory singing each morning of the Gilbert & Parsons song (“More than just a single coat is what we ain’t / ’Cause we’re Gilbert & Parsons One-Coat Paint”)—a requirement that he calls “demeaning, not to mention consistently off-key.” from Calvin Trillin’s Class Notes
“Human rights, dissidence, antiracism, SOS-this, SOS-that: these are soft, easy, post coitum historicum ideologies, ‘after-the-orgy’ ideologies for an easy-going generation which has known neither hard ideologies nor radical philosophies. The ideology of a generation which is neo-sentimental in its politics too, which has rediscovered altruism, conviviality, international charity and the individual bleeding heart. Emotional outpourings, solidarity, cosmopolitan emotiveness, multi-media pathos: all soft values harshly condemned by the Nietzschean, Marxo-Freudian age… A new generation, that of the spoilt children of the crisis, whereas the preceding one was that of the accursed children of history.” Baudrilliard
“Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
— Dr. Johnson
Mom says blogging’s back so maybe I should do this more often now that’s all like cool ‘n stuff again. Therefore I shall, as the elderly among us say, do a blog about whatever comes into my tiny little mind. Along those lines I would like to thank the people who said I should be using Medium I think it’s only fair to ask them, have you actually looked at Medium? Do you have any idea what’s there? OK, so maybe I didn’t have a perfect childhood and maybe my parents weren’t exactly Ward and June, but have you seen how many Medium posts are nothing but “OMG OMG OMG I HATE MY MOTHER!!!!?”
Tolstoy would probably be amazed that Medium has proven his old adage, happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way, and you can get the details on Medium for the low monthly price of only $5.
And while we’re on the subject of late-stage capitalism on the installment plan. O man, take care! What does the deep midnight declare?
Future blogging will include on-again, off-again updates about the Bronze Age Pervert.(BAP) While the book is about a year old it made news again this week when Politico raised the alarm that the kids today are more willing to listen to BAP than the DC conservative hierarchy.
The reason this book is important is because it speaks directly to a youthful dissatisfaction (especially among white males) with equality as propagandized and imposed in our day: a hectoring, vindictive, resentful, levelling, hypocritical equality that punishes excellence and publicly denies all difference while at the same time elevating and enriching a decadent, incompetent, and corrupt elite. … And I have more bad news for my fellow conservatives: the talented kids who’ve found this book aren’t listening to us. It doesn’t matter whether they aren’t listening because they found the book, or they found the book because they aren’t listening. The fact remains that all our earnest explanations of the true meaning of equality, how it comports with nature, how it can answer their dissatisfactions, and how it’s been corrupted—none of that has made a dent. Michael Anton
God knows you need to raise an alarm if you’ve lost the coveted 18-24 demographic. God knows it’s a good time to panic when you wake up only to find the kids are more concerned about getting all buffed up so they can walk around naked as jaybirds when they should be studying the wisdom of Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, or Mitchell Addisonovich McConnell.
At least the punditry is going ahead with damage control.
All the attention has turned BAP into something of a cottage industry. In addition to his book you can now catch his podcast. The beatuty of that is the efficiency he brings to the current administration. As his thoughts are making the round those who wish to learn more need not solely seek out his book. Instead they can hear his words should they be short on time or reached a position in life that is far, far higher than their reading comprehension.
So why have BAP updates?
Because we need to see that America’s transition into a fascist state is not without it’s amusing asides.
Hallmark Cards and Russell Stover Candies
Thanks to the miracle of social media I spent my entire lunch hour on Thursday watching people from my high school days try to scratch each others’ eyes out on Facebook.
Because one of them posted this graphic.
I haven’t seen this much commotion since the time someone asked the captain of the football team if his girlfriend was packing on some pounds or did he get her knocked up?
No, it wasn’t me.
Although I did suggest something along those lines to a fellow who though himself to be quite clever because he would repeat things others said and claim them as his own. So when he took my roughed out phrase and ran with it, what can I say?
Old Jedi mind trick?
For those of you wondering – the gent in question survived his injuries.
So why bring it up?
Because when we retire we’re going back to The Point of Origin.
Jefferson County and Grand Junction are seeking to become free-trade zones in an effort to attract more business, add jobs and help local companies offset some of the rising cost of international trade. Their applications would provide the regions with a spot for companies to store imported goods and defer or bypass tariff-duty payments. There’s growing interest in these zones, also called Foreign Trade Zones, but the process is complicated, heavily regulated and, so far, little used in the only Colorado zones already approved along the Front Range. The ongoing U.S. trade war with China has Colorado manufacturers searching for any sort of reprieve from tariffs. … Foreign Trade Zones were a response to the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act in 1930, which raised import taxes on products that already had tariffs. After retaliation from U.S. trade partners like Canada, Foreign Trade Zones were created four years later to offer some relief.
Going back to our formative years you will remember that some us had a serious interesting and even a passion for learning about civics and history, but you’ll also remember how we had to keep that to ourselves lest we wake the others. Granted, we were sorely tested to snooze whenever the subject of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act came up. In short it was a series of tariffs imposed in the 1920s which many historians say was the leading cause of the Great Depression.
Not like anything even remotely similar would happen today.
Anyway – the idea here is that we move back and find an empty storefront. From there we need to find a cash register and someone who does calligraphy so we can sell suitable-for-framing letters of marque and reprisal. We’ll also be offering a full line of Liechtensteinian-ish passports, realistic looking cruise-ship registries, and other hard to come by quasi-legal documents.
Got an uncle who’s hard to shop for?
Have him declared a hazard to navigation.
We’ll also have a bank of computers in the break room so the employees can mine for BitCoin while they take lunch.
Not to get ahead of myself – and only if we find a place large enough – we might have a couple of concessions, You know something simple like shoe repair or someone who makes keys.
And the moral of this story?
Sometimes executive orders are executive orders, but if you have too many then all you have is an executive work-around.
A great big beautiful tomorrow waiting at the end of every day!
So my goal is to post like every other week. Today was a little housekeeping to get something off the desk, but – to use a phrase I despise – going forward it’s my intention to talk about culture, the immigration debates of 1905, Scopes, and all the other things that are still bothering people every since the word ‘culture’ went into common use. Then there’s the small matter of the Epstein-Brockman- Cabal which has forced me to wear rubber gloves and use tongs just to take certain books of the shelf. I’ll also be dropping BAP a line to ask why those he calls ‘bugmen’* aren’t walking around in ALABAMA STRONG t-shirts. Then if time permits there needs to be an examination of never ending or beginning spinning like the circles that you find in the windmills of what’s left of David Brooks’ mind.
I am one of those fanatics on the alt-right and the alt-left, the ones who make online forums so vicious, the ones who cancel and call out, the minority of online posters who fill the air with hate. I’m one of those radicals whose rage is intertwined with psychological fragility, whose anger at real wrongs is corrupted by my existential panic about myself. To know anything about me you have to understand the chaos at the core of my innermost being. I was raised without coherent moral frameworks. I was raised amid social fragmentation and division, the permanent flux of liquid modernity. Adults in my life have not been trustworthy. Friends have not been trustworthy. Women reject me. I passed through school unseen. You have no idea how ill equipped I am to deal with my pain. I was raised in that coddling way that protects you from every risk except real life. When I was younger my eyes pleaded: Tell me what adulthood and manhood are supposed to look like! All you said was, “You can be anything you want to be!” How does that help? You told me I was special, but the world goes on as if I don’t exist.
No wonder the kids stopped owning the libs and went off to lift weights and pop their clothes off.
Otherwise – see you in two weeks even if I have nothing to say.
* Bugmen, what the Subgenius calls Pinks or those Alaska Wolf Joe refers to as normcore individuals.
“Our gift, our gift to you they come in all colors, one size fits all no muss, no fuss, no spills, you’re tired of kitchen drudgery everything must go, going out of business, going out of business going out of business sale fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man don’t settle for less How do we do it? how do we do it? volume, volume, turn up the volume!” Tom Waits
“Man is a rope stretched between the animal and the Superman–a rope over an abyss. A dangerous crossing, a dangerous wayfaring, a dangerous looking-back, a dangerous trembling and halting. What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not a goal: what is lovable in man is that he is an OVER-GOING and a DOWN-GOING. I love those that know not how to live except as down-goers, for they are the over-goers. Ilove the great despisers, because they are the great adorers, and arrows of longing for the other shore. ” Nietzsche
“Thus also the city-state is prior in nature to the household and to each of us individually. For the whole must necessarily be prior to the part; since when the whole body is destroyed, foot or hand will not exist except in an equivocal sense, like the sense in which one speaks of a hand sculptured in stone as a hand; because a hand in those circumstances will be a hand spoiled, and all things are defined by their function and capacity, so that when they are no longer such as to perform their function they must not be said to be the same things, but to bear their names in an equivocal sense. It is clear therefore that the state is also prior by nature to the individual; for if each individual when separate is not self-sufficient, he must be related to the whole state as other parts are to their whole, while a man who is incapable of entering into partnership, or who is so self-sufficing that he has no need to do so, is no part of a state, so that he must be either a lower animal or a god.” Aristotle
“I wonder that you have not penetration to see the strong inducement to this excess; for he who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.” Dr. Johnson
This was the week when we learned that even Dillinger’s family doesn’t think Dillinger was killed in front of that theater. Maybe it’s the summer heat that got to ’em or maybe they too have become like so many of us – a people who have put all their faith into myths. Or maybe they got caught up in the emotion complexity of family life and came to see that time had sufficiently passed so that they might take up a request for exhumation. Which is not to say that – like the rest of us – they too came to the conclusion of John Dillinger went rogue while a member of the Illuminati and had to be silenced. Of course that lead to the creation of a Masonic Seal Team 6 which was under the direction of 33rd Degree Mason and member of the Scottish Rite, Federal District No. 1 lodge member, J. Edgar Hoover.
Hell – where do you think the term “G-Men” came from?
So in about a month of so we should know if the man killed in front of the Biograph theater was merely a Dillinger manqué while the real Dillinger was sent back to Bavaria to be executed and unceremoniously buried beneath the Venus Grotto at Lugwig II’s beloved Schloß Neuschwanstein.
Nonsense you say?
OK – let’s try that again.
Years ago in The Golden Age of the Bloggitysphere I used to talk about a subset of the electorate which I named “Yosemite Sam Republicans.” They were loosely defined as the rootin’-est, shootin’-est, goldurn pack of hombres whatever pissed in the Pecos. Their foreign policy could be summed up as, “Lookit here, Son. This ol’ cowboy’s had just about enough of you!” While all domestic issues were nothing that a lil’ drinkin’and thinkin’ couldn’t fix. Again, time has passed and there have been tectonic shifts in how we view the electorate so now we can only think of them as rank-and-file conservatives. This week it got to the point that Tom Nichols, instructor at the Naval War College and lifelong GOP member said that the remarks made at this week’s Cincinnati rally were “Mugabe worthy.”
What you see above is as far as I got before El Paso, Dayton,and Mississippi.
“I spent what seemed to many people I knew an eccentric amount of time in Honolulu, the particular aspect of which lent me the illusions that I could any minute order from room service a revisionist theory of my own history, garnished with a vanda orchid.” Joan Didion
We live in times so strange that it takes a high profile jailhouse suicide to break the tension.
Last week it was easy to get pulled into a deep funk. The Friday prior to the shootings we went to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Then the weekend came and it put a stop to whatever had been going through my mind. Instead of moving forward with the original post I went paging through Joan Didion, wading through page after page of her sometimes infuriating prose style which can come across as the rough equivalent of driving a car with a stick shift through slow moving heavy traffic. But there it was in counterpoint to this week’s events – her futile search for The Diggers and the night she sat at the end of the pool while her husband took one call after another each being a more outlandish version of Sharon Tate et al.’s murder than the last.
Going back 50 years it all seemed so much simpler.
Bundy, Dahmer, Son of Sam?
They were all one-offs, twisted, crazy, and in one case, willing to take orders from a dog.
But not Charlie.
Charlie had a plan worthy of the villain in a Hollywood-made Bond knockoff that never saw the light of say in this hemisphere. He was going to start a race war and when all was said and done he would rule from his underground palace in the desert. His scheme had a nexus and he had willing followers to help him carrying it all out. No matter how horrific Manson was you could at least find relief in the fact that he was a crazy man at a time when the crazy men were considered one-in-a-million aberrations, the rarest of rare birds. Charlie’s conspiratorial thinking was his and his alone.
El Paso, Dayton, New Zealand?
Read a little online.
Look at a little YouTube.
Lock and load.
With Epstein we can cut the tension and joke how Barr’s investigation will make the Warren Commission sorry that they didn’t live long enough to say, “And you thought we were bad?” Which is not to say that we can believe in conspiracy while believing that our major institutions are inept. Think what you might, but it’s entirely possible that it was the new kid’s turn to watch Epstein. Never mind – as one wag on Twitter put it – we wholeheartedly believe that children were tortured in the basement of a building that had no basement, while we’re skeptical that a guy with lots and lots of money managed to build an air strip on one of those quasi-legal Caribbean islands where no one could touch him for having underage Bunga Bunga. As I’ve said countless times before – all conspiracy theories fail to acknowledge that they are carried out by human beings who are susceptible to making mistakes and – while caught up in the moment – acting like nothing more than deer caught in the headlights.
Alaska Wolf Joe has done a great deal of thinking about these men who think and plot in isolation. He’s also written at length about it as well. Perhaps I can get him to distill a few of those thoughts to share with all of you. Then, maybe around Labor Day weekend, I can return to run out AWJ’s take on the situation along with what this post was originally supposed to be about, The Bronze Age Pervert. (BAP)
“As I said before, the April 19 debate between Jordan Peterson and Slavoj Žižek is a great waste of time. Žižek, the philosopher, exists on a planet that has a pretty close relationship with reality. Jordan Peterson, a self-help guru, exists on a planet that glows only with the fantastic and sheer power of willing things to be so no matter what the reality. But the debate is going to happen. Žižek, who used to be one of the great philosophers of our times (if Alain Badiou is our Plato, then Žižek is certainly our Socrates), has decided that something or other will be achieved by this Toronto encounter with the self-help guru. And so, what I have to say in this post is much like the transformation of matumbu to maguru. In Shona, the former is the guts of an animal (in this case, that of a cow), and the latter is how you cook them into something edible. To get from one to the other, you pull and wash the crap out of the matumbu. The whole kitchen smells during the process.” Charles Mudede
“This isn’t to say there wasn’t something sinister in the air. As I was entering, a group of beefy dudes started wondering if there were going to be any agitators. One of them kept taking quick glances to see what I was writing in my notebook. While a fair chunk of the audience was there due to intellectual or, at least, ironic curiosity, the Peterson fans began to stand out. A huge tell, a friend noticed, was of course posture: ramrod straight as if they had just been rapped across the knuckles by a grumpy nun. A strange phenomenon is how many dressed like him; tie and a blazer, skinny dress pants or dark-washed jeans ending in nice, pointy shoes. Peterson and his flock all dressed like I did the first time I went to a wedding after making a little bit of money, like, ‘Look at me, I can dress nice now, look at my pointy shoes.’” Jordan Foisey
“It’s just marketing, but it’s worked astonishingly well. It lets a company like Disney, nearing monopolistic status in the film industry, pretend to be victimized by minor dissent. And their fans are such obsessives that they weaponize themselves in its defense. Disney doesn’t need to pay critics to give their films good reviews. Critics will do it for free, because who wants to be the one guy who isn’t on board? Who wants to be the bully? Certainly no one wants to be inundated with cruel and vindictive comments. I’m not saying that every critic who writes a positive review of an Avengers movie isn’t being genuine. But the culture Disney has built for us makes it harder to write a negative review than a positive one.” Ester Rosenfield
“Before social media, people watched the TV shows they liked. If you tuned-in and didn’t find it amusing seeing Hillbillies in Beverly Hills, you changed the channel. If you didn’t like watching a soap opera with pretty people in a hospital E.R., you didn’t watch it. But today, there is the phenomenon of hate-watching–– willfully viewing something you don’t like just so you can bitch about it and be snarky in social media. What’s up with this? I confess, I’ve engaged in this practice. I hate-watched my way through the second half of the second season of True Detective, then posted my sly criticisms on the Facebook playground where other hate-watchers joined the feeding frenzy. We chased this show like it was our white whale, throwing harpoons and riding it to the horizon until it died. What did this say about us? Nothing good. It said we were cultural bullies, trying to win favor with others with our clever, snide barbs. What does it tell marketers about doing business in the social media age? It says now everyone has a voice and a megaphone to broadcast it, and you better be prepared to take on all opinions–– even those of the comic book store guy in the weeds. It’s not pretty. And the worst thing you can do is try and control the conversation. People are going to say what they’re going to say. Oh, and going back to TV viewing habits, some of us were amused by Jethro Bodine with his rope belt and impressive fifth grade education who knew his guzintas. ‘One guzinta two, two times. Two guzinta four, two times…’” ** The Empathetic Ad Man
“The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled. It was a country in which families routinely disappeared, trailing bad checks and repossession papers. Adolescents drifted from city to torn city, sloughing off both the past and the future as snakes shed their skins, children who were never taught and would never now learn the games that had held the society together. People were missing. Children were missing. Parents were missing. Those who were left behind filed desultory missing-persons reports, then moved on themselves. It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the year 1967, and the market was steady and the GNP high, and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose, and it might have been a year of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not.” Joan Didion
“Nothing is more despicable than the old age of a passionate man. When the vigour of youth fails him, and his amusements pall with frequent repetition, his occasional rage sinks by decay of strength into peevishness; that peevishness, for want of novelty and variety, becomes habitual; the world falls off from around him, and he is left, as Homer expresses it, to devour his own heart in solitude and contempt.” Dr. Johnson
The Memorial Day Weekend is upon us which means this page has been around for 20 years or rather I’ve had one page or another similar to this for about 20 years. A writer given to more luxurious and romantic prose would go on and on about grand travels only to return to one’s roots in the same way Luke went back to the original temple or how Superman went back to that North Pole timeshare he splits with Santa. Truth is, and you’ve been witness to it, such comparisons would be like putting lipstick on the lead singer of a German heavy metal band. Therefore, for the purpose of this exercise, we’ll stick to a rudimentary and straightforward posting.
For those of you just tuning in – the word “blog” is a manufactured contraction of the term “blurb log.” The original blogs fell into a category of what could be called “LOOKIT what I found!” pages. Those pages were an offshoot of a bookmarking program which Netscape abandoned in the late 90s. If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Harper’s and seen their Index page then you have a pretty good idea of what the original blogs looked like. A couple of the LOOKIT! pages still exist (e.g. MeFi and Boing Boing) but for the most part blogs moved on to being long winded textual affairs.
To honor that spirit and note this page’s 20th year we’re going to get a little blurb-ish for a minute.
“A man named Stephen Blackwood, a philosopher, defender of the private sphere, and potentially an aristocratic werewolf came out to introduce the pair.”
Alaska Wolf Joe watched all 2 hours and 40 minutes of the incredibly well hydrated Zizek-Peterson debate. (Above) He said the following was a very accurate description:
Jordan Peterson sat in front of an open laptop and a field of San Pellegrino bottles, his legs crossed and fingers splayed across his chin, in a pose that seemed to say, “I’m thinking so hard right now.” When he spoke, he paced and bounded around his podium, his fingers constantly poking at and prodding at the air, or he would hunch over, his face pained with torment as if the marvels of his ideas were just too much for a man to bear.
AWJ’s takeaway – “We’re doomed. They both agreed on that.”
But “a self-help guru?”
Damn, that’s cold.
Going Forward –
1. I’m all done talking about cryptocurrency. Soon the folks keeping track of such things at MIT will be done too. Around the start of this year their daily crypto news letter became weekly and recently it’s dropped to twice a month.
Because the newsletter started to read like a summary of teen drama played out in the crowded high school lunchroom. This one can’t get along with that one, somebody else felt slighted and/or snubbed and now half of them aren’t talking to the other half while the crypto prom (featuring 50 Cent and Snoop) is right around the corner.
Until or unless it becomes less painful to read the crypto stuff is going in the crypt.
2. There will be no lengthy examination of Modern Monetary Theory. (MMT)
Because it is crap.
Most of the people who encounter MMT get all bent out of shape over its central thesis that government deficits and surpluses don’t matter. At best it’s a knee-jerk reaction which misses the much larger problem with the theory.
MMT’s prima facie argument cannot be wished away. Starting with the premise that all currencies are fiat currencies (I.e. Nixon took us off the gold standard in 1971) then governments can spend as they please and print more money and everything will be fine.
OK, but if that’s the case then what is the point of taxes?
Unless there’s some secret Hooterville Rothchilds out there, the average city, county, and state governments can’t just print their own money to spend as they see fit. Also there’s the strange case made by the original MMT theorist Warren Mosler. Mosler says – flat out – taxes are only needed to create incentives for businesses to operate. If it weren’t for taxes we wouldn’t have the industrial bounty we have to day. If it weren’t for taxes Og would never have discovered fire, the Romans wouldn’t have conquered half the then known world, and we’d all still be living in caves.
Sure must be nice to be you Mr. M.
“How’s the wife? Is she home enjoying capitalism?” Zippy
(Above: Somebody Alaska Wolf Joe calls, “Dragon Hillary Clinton.”)
Spent time talking to a couple of business associates this past week, one said, “Did you know last week’s MacGyver had more viewers than Game of Thrones?” To which the other gent said, “I haven’t see GoT or any of the Avengers movies, I’m so out of touch with the monoculture.”
The Monoculture, that is a phrase I have no heard in a long, long time.
Years ago you could go backpacking in a cave for a month or spend the summer lallygagging in a swamp. Upon your return all you had to do was pick up a copy of People and you’d know what was in and what was out, who got married, who got divorced, and what the next big thing was. While I can’t find any proof that Mac outdid the Thrones people it proves one point my associate made – there’s no social media hype machine built up around MacGyver. Certainly the question, “OH MAN, DID YOU SEE MACGYVER LAST NIGHT?” used to be heard frequently among fifth graders c. 1988.
Not so much.
As GoT wound down there was much talk about how it was the last hurrah for the monoculture as the finally allegedly gripped the public’s attention.
Which brings us to:
DISCLOSURE: Alaska Wolf Joe has watched one episode of GoT which is one more than his parents have watched. Per him – calling her Dragon Hillary Clinton is something that’s been running around Millennial circles for months – a larger metaphor for drone strikes in the Obama years followed by her failed election attempt. Other than that we don’t know anything about the show as it did not interested us.
Speaking solely for myself it’s all about the time I spent watching Lost only to have the final episode cough up a rendering of Sister Eugenia’s first-grade catechism lecture on Limbo. Yes, Limbo because I am so goddam old that I was in the target demo for Sister E’s talk which was firmly rooted in the old school Vatican-I -Baltimore-Catechism teachings. Limbo, or Purgatory as it is now known, is a mid-range existence that is neither Heaven nor Hell. You could get stuck there for all Eternity or you could get out with some karma/dharma kinda effort which would get you a cheap nosebleed seat in Heaven. But you have to really, really watch your step in Limbo because the place is just overrun with unbaptized babies.
You see, your soul is just like a bottle of milk that has just been left on your porch by the milkman, pure and white with the sun sparkling off the lovely clean glass of the bottle that holds it. But when you sin it’s like putting a drop of ink in that milk.
Right about there Alfonse Edward ‘Sonny’ Paturzo blurted out, “Ink in milk? That’s dumb!”
I’d like to think that what followed didn’t leave him with a physical scar. (Granted, he did walk with a limp for a couple of days, but then who hasn’t?) His monumental mistake in interrupting Sister Eugenia while she was passing along the very core of Church teachings was so great that his other two offenses, not raising his hand to be called on and failing to stand by his desk while speaking, were set aside.
Sister E’s follow up was the old one about making room at your desk so your guardian angel could sit with you and that’s about all the last episode of Lost had going for it – it never asked me to sit on the couch so my guardian angel could have the Lazy Boy. Otherwise it was a two-hour recap of The Wit and Wisdom of Sister Eugenia minus Sonny’s theological effrontery.
Therefore rather than watch and bitch we have chosen not to watch anything with zombies, stranger things, or thrones. Instead I do the dishes or screw around with the laundry which are pretty much my version of monastic devotions. Mom will the first to tell you that if were on my death bed it would come as no surprise if I said, “I can’t go now, I have stuff in the dryer!”
Speaking of getting older –
The Adventures of an Elderly Contrarian: Please Children, Enjoy the Vast Expanse of My Lawn
Setting aside Sonny’s limp nothing says he escaped having any emotion or psychological scars. (Who knows?) After all these years he could have grown a figurative callous over his wound and wound up being what AWJ calls “emotionally constipated.”
Or maybe it comes with age.
All I know if everybody my age or thereabouts is constantly running their respective yaps about how the kids are on their phones all the time listening to that damn rap hop music. Look at ’em, no matter where they are they’re on their phones listening to that rap hop music. Now where they get that rap hop noise? From their phone, you can bet on that.
I’ll save my lecture on the effect disruptive technologies on the physically and emotionally constipated for another time.
When I was a kid I took no end of shit off my elders for my hair, my clothes’ and the music listened to. Back then I swore when I got old I would not repeat their constant nagging unless some kid did something that might bring me physical harm. So if the kids are constantly on their phone listening to th’ rap hop then it’s no skin off our respective pock marked, wrinkled, varicose-vein streaked noses.
That’s not important now.
For the rest of the summer the rest of the family will be undertaking an long term project which will result in the right jaunty hat I should wear now that I’ve lived long enough to be an old guy going about town in a jaunty hat or cap.
Newsboy cap? Greek fisherman’s hat? Bowler? Straw boater? LBJ Stetson? Or maybe one of those big-ass Billy Jack motherfuckers?
So many possibilities.
Or maybe I’ll settle for a haircut like Till Lindemann’s.
Mr. L is the gent behind the microphone in this throughly NSFW video which highlights the tension between letting people enjoy things vs. those who would differ.
** NB: Mr. Bodine went on to finish the sixth grade and was also capable of doing what his uncle called cypherin’. (i.e. “Naught goes into naught naught times.”)
“Socialism is storming back because it has formed an incisive critique of what has gone wrong in Western societies. Whereas politicians on the right have all too often given up the battle of ideas and retreated towards chauvinism and nostalgia, the left has focused on inequality, the environment, and how to vest power in citizens rather than elites (see article). Yet, although the reborn left gets some things right, its pessimism about the modern world goes too far. Its policies suffer from naivety about budgets, bureaucracies and businesses.”Millennial socialism from the Feb. 14th, 2019 edition of The Economist
“Mini-culture? Micro-culture? They have a million hyphens over there at Time Incorporated.” George Carlin
“Macroeconomic historian Christina Romer, a Great Depression expert, became the chief advisor of president Obama.4 Indeed, Barry Eichengreen, himself an expert on financial crises in history, started his 2011 presidential address by saying that “’This has been a good crisis for economic history.’”Ran Abramitzky
“New Bruce will be teaching political science – Machiavelli, Bentham, Locke, Hobbes, Sutcliffe, Bradman, Lindwall, Miller, Hassett, and Benet. In addition, as he’s going to be teaching politics, I’ve told him he’s welcome to teach any of the great socialist thinkers, provided he makes it clear that they were wrong.”Bruce, University of Wallamaloo
“Delete whatever didn’t get enough likes. On bad hair days, photograph your food. Buy from ethical companies unless you can’t find what you want, in which case, buy from Amazon. Throw your material possessions away like it’s a cardinal virtue. Hate scroll down the Facebook feed of an acquaintance who’s more successful than you. Avoid catching feelings for anyone or anything.”From First World Solutions by Kawai Shen
“Why, Sir, I am a man of the world. I live in the world, and I take in some degree, the colour of the world as it moves along. Your father is a Judge in a remote part of the island, and all his notions are taken from the old world. Besides, Sir, there must always be a struggle between a father and son, while one aims at power and the other at independence.”Dr. Johnson
Blondie and Dagwood in The 21st Century
It’s been some time between posts, but for good reason.
Once again we’re going the long way around the park.
Years ago Mom went to some corporate training which included what to do if someone tried to take the monkey off of his or her back and put it on yours. Using a firm but gently manner Mom mastered the technique of telling people, “OH MY! What a lovely monkey!Is it yours? So adorable, really I flattered, but I just can’t bring myself to separate you from your darling monkey!”
Over time she’s jettisoned whatever phrase the corporate trainers used and adopted the phrase, “Here’s your monkey, what’s your hurry?” Sadly, her technique has gotten quite a workout over the last couple of weeks. The number of people with monkeys reached a point where we almost had to start forming a line. But Mom handled it quite well using a great deal of what Joe Bob Briggs might call non-gratuitous monkey-fu.
Now that the monkey assisted nuisances have all been beaten back we can get on with the pressing issue of the day.
Since the start of the year there’s been plenty of content and much hand-wringing over the Millennials thinking that there’s nothing wrong with socialism. There’s lots of theories about how they’ve never known the abundance of jobs and cheap credit their parents had. That gets coupled with the last recession being burned into their brains at an impressionable age.
Is it true?
But rather than examine all the points that have been made in the past several weeks I’m going to take a different approach, an approach worthy of a crotchety old man with a blog.
I’m going to ask, “Where were the parents?”
And that involves history.
You gotta remember the Millennials parents were not born on the front end of the Baby Boom. The average Millennial’s parents met and settled down in an America that had worked hard to forget the 60s ever happened. They met and mingled when the fern bar was an endanger species. In it’s place came a series of watering holes with names that were about as woke as a Mr. Magoo cartoon. Friday evenings were spent at some bar named Jose Muldoon’s or Flannery O’Chang’s. Instead of the faux Currier-and-Ives fern-bar decor these places looked like one of those antique barns you see off to the side of some rural patch of asphalt. The walls were covered with old stop lights, horse collars, and metal signs for oil companies that no longer existed. Here they flocked in great numbers always wearing their best Miami Vice pastel jackets. Looking over the menu they rolled their eyes in delight at the thought of sharing a Cheese Stuft’d (sic) Deep Fried Baked Potato with friends. Next you washed it down with a signature cocktail that had a name like names like The Huli Huli Volcano or a Crazy Kanaka, either of which had all the charm of so much Del Monte fruit cocktail run through a blender.
Interaction with such food and drink served rough the same function as those birds who show off their plumage when they’re ready for courtship. Beer didn’t come in 31 flavors back then so if you sucked on suds you were moved off to a romance waiting list. God forbid you should be seen drinking something relatively adult (e.g. Chivas on the rocks) as you would then be regarded as little better than Stalin having a bad hair day.
From this gene pool modern America was forged.
Some of you are looking back at all that and are saying, “Sure, the takes us from genetic pairing to the moment of birth, but what about the socialization of these children?”
Anyone who has had children around the house knows that you spend a great deal of time driving them around. The Millennials were no different. Hour after hour they sat in the backseat while the parents left the radio on continuously while they drove. That’s how the average Millennial heard one morning zoo or another shout TGIF!! repeatedly and beg listeners to crank it up and sing along as we learn that everybody’s workin’ for the weekend. Hour after hour the kids learned that life exists between 5pm on Friday and 7am on Monday. The rest was drudgery. Of course as they got older and were able to read the parents gave them the Harry Potter books to read. While it kept them quiet in the backseat it also taught them that anything you need in this life can be had by waving a stick around.
Now some of you are asking, “Shouldn’t you be blaming the media instead?”
No, because that’s the coward’s way out.
Look, the parents could have handed those kids See you at the Top by Zig Zigler. Instead of FM radio Mom or dad could have shoved a cassette containing the combined wisdom of Norman Vincent and Emma Peale. They could have said they met at the opera instead of telling the kids about all those great times ON THE WEEKEND when they are knocking back Kahlua Kahunas at Chin Ho Kelly’s.
So the question stands, “Where were the parents?”
Besides the media get blamed for enough (See Also: non-gratuitous monkey-fu) and if I’m gonna keep up my bitter old crank credentials that means I’m going to have to spend some time blaming the parents.
Speaking of parents and children –
“None of you seem to understand, I’m not locked in here with you, you’re locked in here with me.” Walter Joseph Kovacs AKA Rorschach
Luckily for us we have a Millennial to consult, Alaska Wolf Joe. That means we can resort to that lazy-ass tv news habit of find one person from a given group and holding that person up as what all people in the group are all about.
So what is he up to?
Like Diogenes he’s taken up a lamp and held it up to his own ilk as he searches for the elusive Millennial socialist. So far he’s found one who seems to be out of the country and several others with socialist leanings (i.e. more medium rare than pink) who are in dire need of a nap. Meanwhile he’s sorting out where the AOC fans, Bernie Bros, and others feeling’ the Bern fit into this larger scheme.
He has discovered a group of self-styled anarchists. Here the self-styled is not being used so much in a cynical sense as its use is to show what AWJ described as a lack of thorough thinking on the anarchists part. I asked him how he’s getting along with the anarchists to which he said, “They asked me what my political views were and I told them I was a Rawlsian-Marxist.
What a wonderful term, devious as it is succinct.
It serves as inside joke, shit disturber, and ink-blot test all at once.
Must be something he gets from his mother’s side of the family.
And with that let’s all put down our Pineapple Luas and dance.
“A permanent fog of war is fanned by permanent fakes on Facebook. Already deregulated ideas of truth are destabilized even further. Emergency rules. Critique is a troll fest. Crisis commodified as entertainment. The age of neoliberal globalization seems exhausted and a period of contraction, fragmentation, and autocratic rule has set in.” Hito Steyerl
“Economics is in a state of creative ferment that is often invisible to outsiders. While the sociology of the profession—career incentives, norms, socialization patterns—often militates against engagement with the policy world, especially by younger academic economists, a sense of public responsibility is bringing people into the fray.” – Suresh Naidu, Dani Rodrik and Gabriel Zuchman
“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in who have no home, no family, no doctrine, nor firm place to call my own no known beginning or end, no ‘sacred and primordial site’. I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then ‘melt into air’. I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor can you know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.” Lebbeus Woods 1993
“It [the pyramids] seems to have been erected only in compliance with that hunger of imagination which preys incessantly upon life, and must be always appeased by some employment. Those who have already all that they can enjoy must enlarge their desires. He that has built for use till use is supplied, must begin to build for vanity, and extend his plan to the utmost power of human performance, that he may not be soon reduced to form another wish.” Dr. Johnson
Before we start, please take out a sheet of paper and find something to write with. Once you’re ready, please explain how the above graphic relates to the arrival of The Terminator.
Moving along –
In polite society you’re supposed to say things like, “Pay me no mind.” Or “No offense intended.”
In the past six weeks, we have been snowed in, I came down with the flu not once but twice, and somehow I managed to get another year older. That last part I would have just skipped, but there is that nasty business of the Earth rotating around the Sun at a regular interval. Compounding that, there was the small matter that I spent 14 hours of my birthday working, only to come home to one lone item in the mail that was connected to the day of my birth. Our HMO sent me a cheery card wishing me a happy birthday and telling me to shag my ass down to the nearest clinic for a colonoscopy.
Awww, geee fellers …
And I didn’t get you nothin’!
While I take a microsecond or two to regain my composure after all that, you can take a deep breath because what follows is everything that’s been stuck in my craw since the start of the year.
A Well-Known Historical Fact
Along those lines – since I spent the entire calendar year of 2018 as a fully functioning member of the human race, that meant I seriously pissed off the Catholic Funeral Home Directors of Western Washington. To show their displeasure, they cut me off from receiving one of the their complementary bloody saints and martyrs calendars, which forced me to seek one out online. Pickings were slim but I did find one for four bucks featuring The Greatest Hits of The Crusades.
Oddly enough, none of the 12 illustrations shows the Knight Templars of Malta paying tribute to Charles V of Spain by sending him a golden falcon encrusted from beak to claw with rarest jewels. Sadly, that falcon was seized as pirates raided the galley carrying this priceless token, and the fate of the Maltese Falcon remains a mystery to this day.
You know that, I know that, even small Catholic schoolchildren know that.
But is it in the calendar?
Guess you get what you pay for.
The Force … Stupid is strong with this one
About three weeks ago around a quarter to six in the morning, it was 15 whole degrees outside and I was having serious doubts that the heater was working (it was) while wondering how goddam long the coffee maker needed to kick out a cup. To distract myself I decided to look at Facebook. There in my morning stupor and without my glasses I saw – in large bold type – the words, “The Name of Your Vagina Is the Last Television Show You Watched. GO!”
My first thought was a sense of relief for women everywhere that Bonanza, Gunsmoke, Mannix, and The Ed Sullivan Show are no longer on the air. Also it occurred to me that if I had a vagina I might not be terribly pleased at seeing this. Therefore I decided to ask the nearest person who has one what she might think.
And that would be Mom.
“(Expletive) BOOKFACE AND (Expletive) MARK (Expletive) ZUCKERBERG FOR LETTING PEOPLE GET AWAY WITH THIS (Expletive) NO GOOD (EXPLETIVE).”
Which is what I thought she might say given that she once said that women who refer to their breasts as “The Girls” are “(Expletive) MORONS!”
Think of it this way – Mom isn’t so much a TERF, second-wave, or post-structuralist so much as a “I’VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU!” feminist.
You know –
The odd thing was that this all happened during the recent declaration of a national emergency. Given that my FB feed has people radically aligned with each end of the spectrum, I thought my FB page would be crawling with posts either resembling a loud New Year’s Eve gathering or people screaming hysterically like their heads were on fire. Instead it was mostly, as the kids say, ‘crickets’ augmented by a cascade of posts cataloging women’s viewing habits.
Currently the single most interesting item regarding FB is on Twitter. There’s a feed called We Wuz Boomers which collects memes intended on punking us people of a certain age.
This one’s the best.
Alaska Wolf Joe and I had a discussion as to whether or not I should post it, as several people I’m connected to are what Bugs Bunny once called the rugged outdoorsy type. The question of discretion comes along when you consider their cultural literacy and how they’d react. I really don’t want to do something that would upset them … well … I don’t, but it would be so much fun.
Kids, let that be a lesson to you. If you wholeheartedly believe in the markets, you have to remember that the big boys are in the market too. Chase moving into the biz could well … chase everybody else away.
And if you’re going into the Bitcoin biz, be sure to write your password down.
What little fun I’ve had came from a day trip to Portland. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had a chance to catch up on my cultural anthropologist skills and our neighbors to the south always offer an opportunity to bring my credit up to speed.
In no particular order:
– Went to lunch and the poor bartender was acting as greeter, waiter, bus boy, and everything else that involved interacting with the public. Needless to say he was one harried guy so I didn’t say anything when he came around, put a bottle on the table, and said, “Sustainable ketchup.”
For those of you keeping score at home – there is no fluoride in Portland’s free-range water and the ketchup is earth-friendly.
– While walking along I was nearly hit by someone driving a Subaru Outback at twice the posted speed. If you’ve ever been to Portland you know that the last sentence was the most seriously redundant statement that can be made about the city.
– Speaking of Portland’s most popular car – while I was waiting at an intersection for the walk light to change, a guy roughly my age pulled up to the light. All the windows on his Outback were rolled down and he was singing along to this tune which he played at full volume.
For the first time since God knows when, the temperature managed to work its way up to 50 degrees and while it ain’t spring up here in The Big Damp Woods it’s close enough.
– Portland’s best breakfast can be had at Mother’s, which recently moved from Second to Third on the north end of downtown. Breakfast also came with a complementary copy of The Oregonian. Flipping through, I found the boilerplate in the masthead more interesting that the rest of the paper. The Oregonian, Oregon’s largest newspaper, runs out a print edition on Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. While their website is updated daily, you can only get the dead-tree version on selected days. Their overall content, which was always better than the Seattle Times, seems to still be strong, but I have to wonder how The Register-Guard in Eugene is doing. It too was a far, far better paper than anything we have in Seattle and the R-G’s legacy includes carrying Our Boarding House during its original run.
– Along the lines of cultural divides – when finished with the paper I didn’t know what to do with it. Standing next to a trash can was a 6’6″ bearded drag queen opening a fresh pack of 100mm smokes while adjusting a pair of magenta clam diggers that revealed the entire buttocks. Offered the paper only to get the response, “Thanks, but I’m waiting on my Uber.”
Some would be alarmed at the overall look, others would giggle, but lots of us just see it as another day in the big city.
– BTW – we went to Dutch Brothers twice because as Agent Cooper once said, “You should treat yourself to something every day, Harry.”
When it’s time to relax your standards
Our every decade or so major snowstorm arrived at about the same time this year’s Super Bowl started. Since there was no point in going out, we stayed in and watched.
What did we learn?
Some beer is made with wind power, a renewable source of energy, while another beer uses only USDA-certified organic grains. Beyond all that, there was Bud Lite (sic) telling anyone who would listen, “GET BEHIND ME HIGH-FRUCTOSE SATAN!”
When did beer become virtuous? When did we reach the point where mothers everywhere summoned the family by saying, “Hurry children! Gather near, for Father is about to crack one open for God and Country!”
Home. Base of operations. The more you invent your own life style, the more you realize that the categories that have been invented are ultimately, at best, imperfect devices for understanding the world, and, at worst, fake. Vitalik Buterin
“A friend of mine who is involved in a blockchain startup remarked that people keep trying to explain the underlying technology—the engine under the hood rather than the car on the road. ‘It’s like they’re trying to describe e-mail to people, and instead of saying, ‘You can send messages to people over the Internet,’ they’re saying, ‘There’s a protocol called S.M.T.P., which locates a set of rules for the movement of files from one to another.’ And yet he also complained about what he calls the incorrigibles, the Luddites who refuse even to try, whom he likened to the people in an office who profess not to know how to work the copy machine.” Nick Paumgarten (ibid above)
These days I tend to think of dystopias as being fashionable, perhaps lazy, maybe even complacent, because one pleasure of reading them is cozying into the feeling that however bad our present moment is, it’s nowhere near as bad as the ones these poor characters are suffering through. Vicarious thrill of comfort as we witness/imagine/experience the heroic struggles of our afflicted protagonists—rinse and repeat. Is this catharsis? Possibly more like indulgence, and creation of a sense of comparative safety. A kind of late-capitalist, advanced-nation schadenfreude about those unfortunate fictional citizens whose lives have been trashed by our own political inaction. If this is right, dystopia is part of our all-encompassing hopelessness.On the other hand, there is a real feeling being expressed in them, a real sense of fear. Some speak of a “crisis of representation” in the world today, having to do with governments—that no one anywhere feels properly represented by their government, no matter which style of government it is. Dystopia is surely one expression of that feeling of detachment and helplessness. Since nothing seems to work now, why not blow things up and start over? This would imply that dystopia is some kind of call for revolutionary change. There may be something to that. At the least dystopia is saying, even if repetitiously and unimaginatively, and perhaps salaciously, Something’s wrong.
“Platforms are defined not by what they permit but by what they disallow. Our public culture is, in important ways, a product of their design and oversight. Platforms do not just mediate public discourse: they constitute it. Platforms moderate (through removal, filtering, and suspension); they recommend (through news feeds, trending lists, and personalized suggestions); and they curate (through featured content and front-page offerings). Platforms use these three levers together to actively and dynamically tune the participation of users in order to generate the “right” feed for each user, the “right” social exchanges, and the “right” kind of community. “Right” in these contexts may mean ethical, legal, and healthy, but it also means whatever will promote engagement, increase ad revenue, and facilitate data collection. Too often, social media platforms discuss content moderation as a problem to be solved—and solved privately and reactively. In this customer service mindset, platform managers understand their responsibility primarily as protecting users from the offense or harm they are experiencing.” – Tarleton Gillespie
“Historians are certainly chargeable with the depravation of mankind, when they relate, without censure, those stratagems of war by which the virtues of an enemy are engaged to his destruction. A ship comes before a port, weather-beaten and shattered, and the crew implore the liberty of repairing their breaches, supplying themselves with necessaries, or burying their dead. The humanity of the inhabitants inclines them to consent, the strangers enter the town with weapons concealed, fall suddenly upon their benefactors, destroy those that make resistance, and become masters of the place; they return home rich with plunder, and their success is recorded to encourage imitation.” Dr. Johnson
Kinda goes without saying that things have kinda sucked over the past couple of weeks. (GHWB, stock market et al.) Not that anybody needed the addition stress during the holidays, but it’s not like you’re bereft of choices when it comes to navigating all this.
Either you can get all stressed out reading the 10+ pages the British Parliament published about Facebook’s wrongdoings here.
Or you can just read on.
Roll me, call me the Tumblr dice
Tumblr went through serious upheaval last week after Apple bounced them for having kiddie_p)rn on their site. Rather than deal with the problem directly Yahoo’s parent company, Verizon turned loose AI bots to clean up all manner of content that might be offensive and/or illegal. It turned out to be a more than a bit ham fisted as the wide net cast squashed such images that included The Statue of David and took down many, many of the retro images that I have … repurposed for … ummm my social media branding. (e.g. the Lucky Strike ads, Burma Shave signs, and various images to help tell the tale of The World’s Most Radioactive High School.) Most if it came from one guy’s site, but by the end of the week his page was strictly a farewell note, and Saturday morning it was gone. What I’l really miss about that page are the countless magazine covers from those uber-butch mens magazines. You’ve seen them – some guy’s wrestling an alligator with his bare hands while his date stands nearby screaming. Gents of a certain age remember such publications from when we went to the barber shop on a regular basis. You be waiting your turn in the barber chair so you looked for something to read. You’d pick up the last Bob Hope comic book in the stack and there it was, some shirtless Sgt. Rock type barely keeping a gorilla in a headlock and there at the bottom of the page was the breathless headline, “NAZIS BUILD SECRET A&W IN ARGENTINA!”
Oh, sure, you can say that’s a simpler publication from more innocent time, but as far as Verizon’s Prude Bots are concerned that’s out-and-out smut.
How did we get here?
Once Yahoo acquired Tumblr they got busy managing it The Yahoo Way which as we all know is not so much laissez faire nor benign neglect. It’s more like everybody in the executive suite stands around looking bewildered and asking each other, “Wait, we own what?”
Sure, they could have gone in and taken care of the problem in a more precise surgical way, but no.
The Tumblr kerfuffle was the first suck-awful thing of the week because it proved my point that the Internet is no longer fun. In fact the corporate masters who set the Prude Bots loose are part of a growing trend to turn the Internet into a junior-high dance at a Catholic School.
For those of you who’ve never had this pleasure this is how it works:
Ten nuns ride roughshod over about 100 kids. Four nuns have clipboards, two stand at the door taking attendance (as this is mandatory fun) and the other two wander the dance floor. On the dance floor one nun has a list of the boys’ names, and the other has the girls’. The point of this exercise is to make sure that no one get a chance to get in touch with their inner wallflower. The Clipboard Sisters job is to use some sort of nun-based calculus to make sure everyone dances in some sort of even rotation.
Think of it not so much as an old fashion dance card but dance assignments.
The balance of the nuns?
They spread out across the dance floor carrying an assortment of yardsticks and rulers. Their job is to make sure that no one’s personal space is intruded upon. (Please note, we’re not talking about how a given individual might define his or her own personal space, rather we’re talking about how Sister Jane Albert, Sister Perpetua, and Sister John Bosco defined it.) The personal space thing raised blisters on my ass as I had an inkling that I -might – just maybe – might – sorta – maybe- have a chance to test the limits of what constituted Patti McNamara’s personal space. (I had come up with several theories on the matter since the start of the school year.) I thought that maybe – OK – maybe – I would be assigned to her during a slow dance so I could come away with a good idea of how much Charlie perfume she was wearing before the rulers were deployed.
So much for that.
I got a fast dance with her and she got to slow dance with Alfonse Edward “Sonny” Paturzo.
At the end of the night we all thanked the principal – in unison – just like we practiced all week – for such a lovely evening. Then we were turned loose to our parents where we got to recite the other thing we memorized – telling them what a great time we had.
Moving along –
“Draw me your map of utopia and I’ll tell you your tragic flaw.” – or – Keeping a CIVIL tongue planted firmly in your cheek
“I was anticipating evenings spent listening to crypto-hippies describe the angel-faced space elves they met when they took DMT.” Laurie Penny
The CIVIL initiative’s ICO for the CVL token failed badly a few months back. What follows are a few thoughts that are neither autopsy nor obit. That would probably be OK with the CIVIL-ians at CIVIL as they’d probably prefer some Nick Carraway green-light themed essay on the matter.
For those of you just tuning in – the CIVIL initiative was at attempt to save journalism by offering a journalism specific cryptocurrency.
Per CIVIL the CVL token would free journalism from worrying about being pressured by advertisers or having to deal with something like Peter Thiel’s attack on Gawker. Beyond that the CVL would build a newsroom of the future that was inclusive and transparent. So CIVIL kept beating that drum for a half dozen months. Then in September when the tokens went on sale it barely brought in any money. In fact it brought in so little money that no one involved wants to talk about it other than to say it fell short of the $8 million it was supposed to raise.
CIVIL’s arguments were all inward facing. There’s no way you can get the general public to buy into much of that. First, the general public doesn’t really know much about cryptocurrency. In fact it’s only recently, now that Bitcoin has proven unstable, that the issue has managed to sneak onto the edges of the public’s radar. We only got interested in the matter about a week before the failed CVL sale when Forbes said it was interested in using CIVIL. Previously CIVIL only talked about associate site that are small or had niche topics.
That was another matter.
So Mom tasked me with learning about the blockchain and cryptocurrency. Alaska Wolf Joe got wind of his mother’s request and got to work. He sent this post-post modernist “Neo-Kantian take by some DeLeuze fanboy” on Bitcoin and the blockchain.
Here’s what I’ve learned so far:
– I still stand by the idea that Bitcoin et al. are still at the Commodore C64 stage – in other words – too early to tell. Lately I’ve been reading a series of essays about media infrastructure by Tarleton Gillespie, Lisa Parks, and Paul Dourish. All talk about how certain technologies start off one way only to yield a more practical result. One of their examples is how CDN’s came along because someone wanted faster access to video on the Internet(s).
– The blockchain is – for now- a darn secure way to send data. Once it gets in wider use it will attract monkeyshines.
– Crypto will not make you a better person and crypto cannot prevent people from acting like people. Right now its enthusiasts fail to acknowledge that humanity’s dark side will sooner or later intrude. Money comes with lots of emotional baggage, but you’d never know it reading about the crypto types. Their world has as much emotion as a NASA clean room has dust.
To that point Roger Ver was quoted in the article going around this morning,Four Days Trapped at Sea with Crypto’s Super Rich as saying, ““No amount of coercion can solve a math problem.” That’s true. But it’s also the case that no amount of mathematics can delete human prejudice, and no ledger can logic away human cruelty. If the crypto community hasn’t realized that yet, it soon will.”
Because money is inextricably entangled with questions of reciprocity, it is tied-up intimately with such provocations to outrage as injustice, cheating, exploitation, and unbounded inequality. Such sensitive moral trigger-zones pose a formidable inhibition to dispassionate analysis. Disciplined investigation of money threatens to arouse sentiments of social alienation, and even desecration. There is no theoretical conclusion about the nature of money so cold that it does not appear burdened with concrete socio-political implication.
CIVIL’s greatest sin?
When you ask people for money you absolutely have to answer the first question they always ask, “What’s in it for me?”
At no time did they make the case which was wrong in that sooner or later you’ve got the to get the general public involved because there’s more of them than there are of you.
BTW – it is a tad ironic that the crypto cruise got the a-fun-thing/David Foster Wallace treatment from a publication that says its blockchain powered.
Speaking of what the DMT space elves had to say – let’s finish up.
Punk’s Not Dead! It Just Smells That Way!
A variety of things have piled up recently. About a month ago we saw PiL and noted that Mr. Lydon now needs reading glasses to see the set list. This past week marked the 40th anniversary of several of us making a trek in the snow (uphill both ays) to see The Talking Heads. Then a couple of days ago Pete Shelley died. They were all of the same era.
For those of you who weren’t there it was a damn interesting time. Those bands killed the pomposity of the extended solo and relegated such profound statements as “All we are is dust in the wind” to people with 8-track decks. Around that time some people went all in on being totally punl, but many of us weren’t into zero-sum lifestyles. Many of us had to face facts as we’d look stupid in black motorcycle jackets. Never mind that we didn’t have the personality to pull off tattos and piercings. That’s why it was a relief to discover Australia’s Cosmic Psychos whose brand of loud and fast dates back to the late 70s.
Finally there’s a punk band whose couture now resembles mine and my current physique.
“In their paper, titled Preference for realistic art predicts support for Brexit, Noah Carl, Lindsay Richards, and Anthony Heath conclude that respondents who picked all four realistic paintings ‘were a full 20 percentage points more likely to support (Brexit) leave” than those who preferred all four, or three-out-of-four abstract works. The result remained the same even when the team controlled the data for demographic variables, such as gender, age, education, ethnicity, or country of birth. Speaking to the Guardian, lead researcher Noah Carl said that he thinks the conclusion “largely reflects differences between social conservatives and social liberals. (Brexit)Leave voters were not much more economically right-wing than remain voters, but they were substantially more socially conservative,” he said. The paper suggests that social conservatives, who are more likely to have voted for Brexit, “display lower tolerance for ambiguity and greater need for closure than their liberal counterparts” and thus “experience more elevated psychological discomfort when looking at objects depicted in a non-representational way.” Henri Neuendorf
“While the story of the (extreme) Wings may be one of division and conflict, a very different story is found in the rest of America. In fact, the largest group that we uncovered in our research has so far been largely overlooked. It is a group of Americans we call the Exhausted Majority―our collective term for the four tribes, representing a two-thirds majority of Americans, who aren’t part of the Wings. Although they appear in the middle of our charts and graphs, most members of the Exhausted Majority aren’t political centrists or moderates. On specific issues, their views range across the spectrum. But while they hold a variety of views, the members of the Exhausted Majority are also united in important ways:
“They are fed up with the polarization plaguing American government and society.
“They are often forgotten in the public discourse, overlooked because their voices are seldom heard.
“They are flexible in their views, willing to endorse different policies according to the precise situation rather than sticking ideologically to a single set of beliefs.
“They believe we can find common ground.
“The distinction between the Wings and the Exhausted Majority takes us beyond a simple story of the left and the right. Based on their strong views and values, we believe both Traditional Conservatives and Devoted Conservatives belong in the Wings. On the other side, Progressive Activists belong in the Wings, but Traditional Liberals belong in the Exhausted Majority. They have clear liberal views, but unlike the three Wings tribes, they have a more diverse range of opinions, seem more concerned about the country’s divisions, and are more committed to compromise. While partisans argue and score political points, members of the Exhausted Majority are so frustrated with the bitter polarization of our politics that many have checked out completely, ceding the floor to more strident voices. This is especially true of Politically Disengaged and Passive Liberals, while Traditional Liberals and Moderates remain engaged. Members of the Exhausted Majority tend to be open to finding middle ground. Furthermore, they aren’t ideologues who dismiss as evil or ignorant the people who don’t share their exact political views. They want to talk and to find a path forward.” From Hidden Tribes
“There is nothing, I think, in which the power of art is shown so much as in playing on the fiddle. In all other things we can do something at first. Any man will forge a bar of iron, if you give him a hammer; not so well as a smith, but tolerably. A man will saw a piece of wood, and make a box, though a clumsy one; but give him a fiddle and a fiddle-stick, and he can do nothing.” Dr. Johnson
“Turns out that I’m nowhere near white enough to be outraged by this.” Savannah Man (link)
Many of us don’t inhabit this medium as frequently as we used to. (I am reluctant to use the word ‘blog’ as a verb here.) As such we get a little out of practice and – given the passage of time – we’re not quite as young as we used to be and our stamina has waned some. While we still think we can, as my father used to say, go bear hunting’ with a switch, the sad fact is that it’s difficult to sustain a long stream of content once you’ve fallen out of the daily habit.
Compounding matter is the daily distraction that surrounds us. Sometimes it’s social media and sometimes it’s something so odd that you can’t help yourself – you will be absorbed by it and you can’t break free. One of those things came along this week when word got out that someone had stuck google eyes on a statue commentating General Nathanael Greene who was part of The American Revolution.
Needless to say the Savannah, GA police reacted the same warm, jolly sense of humor you’d associate with a high-school gym teacher. At last report the police are still looking for Ossama bin Glue Gun and generally acting pissy about the whole thing.
Normally this would lead me to run out at least 2500 words on the subject, but you know what?
No can do.
I’m still keeping company with a hot water bottle and some Icy Hot because I over did it with the last entry. That’s why I’m turning today’s post over to Alaska Wolf Joe. (Pictured above)
No, it’s not about Kanye.
I have a whole post on a scratch pad about Ye, the gift who keeps giving. The central point of that draft revolved around the idea that the word ‘celebrity’ will eventually evolve into meaning someone who has an opinion. Think of it along the lines that when Shakespeare uses the word ‘villain’ it meant a genuinely bad guy whereas today a villain is acharacter in a movie.
“SHAGGY TOO DOPE YOU ARE A GOOD MAN BUT YOUR DROPKICK IS FUCKING DRIZZLING SHITS … BUBBA I LOVE THE PEACE NOT THE WAR UNLESS THE SON OF A BITCH JABRONI DESERVE TO GET SUPLEXED. THIS WAY THE SHAGGY GOOD MEN. GOD BLESS YOI.” – The Iron Sheik
Here now – a word or two from Alaska Wolf Joe:
The Insane Clown Posse as a Project of Midwestern Utopianism
In a discussion with a colleague yesterday, we had come to a certain problem regarding the vulgar application of Marxist theory to the Midwest. I argued, in a naïve sense, that the reason that traditional morality regarding family and gender was still present in the Midwest was due to the fact that physical labor as the bulk of economic productivity had not disappeared; whereas the disappearance of traditional morality regarding family and gender was more erased in the cities due to the predominance of intellectual labor over physical labor. But they pointed out, correctly, that the major economic force even in deeply agrarian America (which Ohio isn’t completely) was that of a migrant worker economy. Given this, the workers being produced are not products of the family as such, but foreign imports. Why, then, does a traditional Christian family morality still exist in the Midwest and the agrarian parts of the country? If not the family unit as a social formation, what social structures are effects of the economically necessary steps of subjugating migrant workers in order to have productive labor?
This might be the sociological mystery of the Midwest, why tradition maintains an errant spectre and conservatism still is abound in the rustbelt, and why the post-industrial wasteland remains only a wasteland and hasn’t transitioned as efficiently as the cities have into places where information has processed. Nonetheless, some ideological structure pervades.
What, then, do we make of the Insane Clown Posse? It seems to have come out of the crucible of a post-industrial Midwest and represented … something … par excellence. I have been informed by my colleague that their film professor was very interested to know of our experience of going to this concert, and in fact, wants to meet with me at some point soon to discuss it. There have apparently been somewhere less than a dozen or so serious anthropological or sociological analyses which have attempted to analyze the Insane Clown Posse, despite their 31 year old career (started, reportedly, in 1989.)
Again, I can make no claims to any astute empirical knowledge of the current social formations in the Midwest, of its economic duress, or of its changing attitudes and demographics. Nonetheless, there are some facts that seem to pervade our entire discourse. Kanye West in his hallucinogenic speech to Trump two days ago touched on the same things: Why can’t a working man get a job in Chicago? Bring the jobs back to America. We produced steel! Beautiful, clean coal! And its flipside: The first thing I saw on my entrance to Oberlin was an advertisement saying “Heroin kills.”
The fantasy of the Midwest I have received is one of idleness in the wake of globalism. The invisible hand of the market does not fondle all parts of the globe equally, and the message seems to have been it has been a long time since that self-same hand gave the Midwest a tender caress. In its wake, consumption attempts to service the awful absence of industry. Post-industrial abandon is left with the dualities of productive-consumption: the consumption of spectacle, or the consumption of narcosis. In the latter, the opiate of the masses is itself opium. The former need, the consumption of spectacle, is perhaps what the Insane Clown Posse is born out of, and explains their curious apolitical dimension.
Habermas describes one of the features of late capital as “the exhaustion of Utopian energies.” This central thesis is that the idea of utopia centered around the notion of utopia as an ideal social structure which provided a form of just and unalienated social labor. The welfare state solved this up unto a point: it provided enough necessity and mediation of social labor that social labor was not a wholesale form of alienation, but it did not provide enough to fix the continual social crises and misery of capitalist social organizations. As such, the notion of utopia began to dissolve as a public way of thinking, and more notably, the central political focus on the notion of social labor began to disappear. With it came the welfare state’s forms of utopianism, which focus predominantly on fantasies of communicative harmony and communicative utopias. The dimension of utopia through resolving the forms of inequity and domination that subjugate people into productive labor have been left to various outsider groups or academics. In political discourse, it has all but disappeared. But I would suggest that it has found another outlet: the fantasy of a system of utopian labor fulfilled through aesthetic representation.
What could be a better model for a utopian fantasy of non-estranged social labor than a circus in which one both participates in delirious enjoyment and produces with the same movement? What better represents a certain heyday of a working class figure of spectacle than the figure of the carnie? The myth of Dionysian ecstasy, of the pure consumption and production of bliss, does not go far enough into producing a product. The circus goes further: not only does it enable the consumption and production of bliss in an ecstatic state by its participants, but it produces a commoditized experience which can be bought and sold. This is one dimension of the spectacle which ICP represents.
The other dimension is seen through the hallucination of the body as a productive force. Both members of the ICP, as early as six years before they started rapping, were amateur wrestlers in Michigan. A full analysis of professional wrestling here would be needless, but it is curious that professional wrestling has more of a cultural affinity with the Midwest than many other parts of the country. I would speculate that this is because it still allows to see man as fundamentally laboring, even if the actual spectacle of wrestling is one of profound artifice. Even in the disjointedness of performance, the body still appears as working, and as violent. Wrestling doesn’t represent a regress to the “human nature” of violence, but of the professionality of violence; of the pure domain of physical force and its exertion, but in such a way it can be consumed as spectacle. It is, I would say, a return to directly confronting a form of social labor. Even if wrestling does not feature in the ICP’s performance, it hangs as a backdrop and as a theme, as part of the mythos and aesthetic of the ICP – even if abstracted. There is some affinity between their artistic presentation and the aesthetic of professional wrestling and its implications and their music, but as to what I’m not fully capable of saying.
Through these two dimensions, the Insane Clown Posse accomplishes the aesthetic representation of a certain fantasy felt missing in the Midwest: Not only the return of productive social labor in the post-industrial wasteland, but the return of productive social labor in its unestranged form through consensual non-subjugated labor and ecstatic bliss.
And at the same time, it cannot abide by the same traditional structures of morality and socialization which otherwise are/were functional for the Midwest. The circus by itself presents a certain sight – if not its European incarnation of “the Other Victorians” then at least of us Other Americans. The circus is not only the sight of apexes of the human body, the subjugation of man over nature in the form of performing animals, but also that of the freak show. And this is the theme that is most stressed by the ICP: The notion of the ‘dark circus’, the continual presentation in their stage show of actors wearing disfigured clown masks, of a sense of horror lurking under the circus and the site of the circus as a location for those quantified as ‘other’ in America to live without judgment. It is at the same time a utopian space for the other as well as a place of subjugation. Only through presenting and performing as ‘Other’ does the freak show enable itself to be economically profitable. Yet, through its presentation of ‘Otherness’ it reifies the concept of otherness, the presentation of being Other means you are consumed as being Other in the spectacle, and hence really are Other.
This central theme is perhaps the purest theme of utopianism in the Insane Clown Posse: We are awash in our otherness. We are so awash that we do not care if you dignify us or do not. We are immersed in our ecstatic bliss and will never change. It is up to you if you want to pay for the circus or not, but we know if you pay, you will enjoy it to no end.
Yet, from this self-production of Otherness the ICP must needs necessarily exclude itself from the domain of politics. To concern itself with the political or with legitimate problems of social labor would be disingenuous. And if, for some strange reason, the ICP engaged with the modern liberal-democratic utopia of pure communicative engagement, it would fail to be Other whatsoever. The presence of the Other as a theme represents an anxiety of dis-communication. One can see this notion fairly intuitively in contemporary discourse: “The only reason the white supremacists are still racist is because they have never lived with a black person and experience the suffering of their community. If only they talked to one another, they would realize that we are all human.” The fantasy of utopian communication mirrors the inherent tendency in the digital age to connective immediacy. Through the reference of all to all, human differentiation disappears, and all differentiation only belongs to the proper domain of differences between “generalized human themes” – not the racial or class separation of “white and black” or “rich and poor” but the generalized experiences of man being differentiated, the difference and otherness of state between “the [human] experience of being in love” or “the [human] experience of suffering” or “the [human] experience of anxiety.” The liberal-democratic dream of reducing all American life to a vast commonality which is continually communicated and reciprocally understood by all to all dissolves the Other as a category of social experience, and reduces Otherness to the difference between one generalized experience of a mental state to another. But the presentation of the Insane Clown Posse, the presentation of the Juggalo in general, can only thrive of its association with the category of Other. The FBI classification of the ICP as a gang reflects this inherent trend – the ICP is not Other to the law, but it is Other to representational politics. Perhaps the most radical notion of the ICP is itself its wholesale rejection of representational politics as a theme in its works whatsoever, not because it has been “subjugated” into having no voice, but rather as an intentional choice and a necessity of its cultural sensibility. This is, some would argue, a political stance, but it is nonetheless antithetical towards an American political sensibility, and hence, “apolitical.”
Through these points, I hope to have pointed towards an ideological stance of the Insane Clown Posse, and its specific brand of American utopianism.
Two other themes, disconnected from the above also presented themselves to me:
The Pleasure of the Commodity
The trademark of the Insane Clown Posse is still Faygo soda. It is the local brand of Detroit, and extremely cheap. At their concerts, they have between 50-200 or so 2 liter bottles of Faygo, which they shake up, spray on the audience, and throw at the audience. The audience members do not feel effaced in any way, but revel in it. But I wonder if in some way this isn’t itself a form of animating the commodity. The animation of the bottle itself seems to suggest in some way its coming to life, its own ecstatic state. It’s a representation of the working class nature of Michigan, where the ICP hails from, and also a sort of faux representation of the Bacchanalia. It really appears as a product of uniform mass production, and it does not provide any form of intoxication. It would be very easy to do a tired Freudian reading: Oh, it’s just phallic ejaculation! But something seems unsatisfying to me. I can’t put any deeper finger onto it, but it feels like a certain jouissance of the item itself. It is as if the soda is alive and wants to be spread in the most perverse way possible, finding it another part of the pleasurable voluptuousness of the spectacle.
The Dream of Death
Like all vaguely metal or ‘horror’ themed musical acts, the hint of death remains heavily. But this is a very joyous death, the continual joy and ecstasy of murder or gothic themes. It is the ‘dark circus’, the carnival of death. Where this takes on a jubilant theme in other cultures representing a certain attitude towards death (compare Dia de los Muertos), it is very contrary to the American fear of death and the continual prolonging of life for the sake of further productivity. I wonder if in some way this is not because it is another form of utopian thinking, the ability to fantasize about death in an orgiastic was a sort of exit from the state of destitution and the forced will to live present in the disciplinary institutions from the 20th century to the 21st century which still haunt the post-industrial landscape. Death remains always opposed to the system of capitalism, and as Baudrillard points out, maybe the only point of resistance which really wholly and completely opposes the current state of things. It remains, however, only a fantasy.
(Ed. note: Alaska Wolf Joe’s previous essay on The ICP and the nature of performance can be found here.)
“The rise of identity politics on the Left has stimulated and legitimated new assertions of identity on the Right. Donald Trump has received support for being politically incorrect, that is, for not respecting the identity niceties that characterize contemporary American political discourse. In doing so he has greatly abetted the rise of white nationalists and the alt-right, which see themselves as persecuted and marginalized minorities in much the same way as the leftwing identity groups. The Trumpist right in the United States today includes many Christian evangelicals, but it would not be accurate to say that the Trump phenomenon is driven primarily by religion. Many of his voters would like to preserve a traditional concept of American national identity that was partly defined by Christianity, but also by ethnicity and conservative social values more generally. None of this squares, of course, with the sort of liberal civic identity that America had slowly built for itself in the wake of the Civil War.”Francis Fukuyama
“Members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers — themselves desperately afraid of being downsized — are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.At that point, something will crack. The non-suburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for — someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. … One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past 40 years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.” – Richard Rorty c. 1998
In Daniel Torday’s new novel, Boomer1, a 31-year-old man sits in front of a Grateful Dead poster in his parents’ basement, where he lives, puts on a rubber David Crosby mask, and stares into his webcam to begin recording another so-called “Boomer Missive.” His name is Mark Brumfeld, and he is a relatively unremarkable specimen of his generation—drowning in student loan and credit card debt, unable to find steady employment, and searching for an easy scapegoat for the all-encompassing disillusionment he feels about his life. And so he directs his ire at none other than the largest generation in American history, the baby boomers, anyone born in that postwar, pre-Pill population surge between 1946 and 1964. Torday’s novel addresses the popular and wide-sweeping narrative that boomers are hunkering down with “all of the jobs” and refusing to retire, hogging all sorts of cultural space, and in doing so stunting the economic and emotional growth of the generation below them, some of whom are their literal children. In Boomer1, though, this leads to things getting quickly and dangerously out of hand. First the AARP website is hacked. Bob Weir’s home is vandalized. Iconic boomers Jann Wenner, Philip Roth, and Oprah are all doxed. An enterprising prankster breaks into the Eddie Bauer mainframe and makes it so that every item sold in its stores is marked $666.66. These attacks dominate the news; a (barely) fictionalized David Brooks writes a widely shared op-ed decrying “Millennials Gone Wild.” In the novel, persecuted boomers like Brooks start using a new phrase to describe the mayhem: “domestic generational terrorism.” Lindsay Zoladz
“We must consider how very little history there is; I mean real authentick history. That certain Kings reigned, and certain battles were fought, we can depend on as true; but all the colouring, all the philosophy of history is conjecture.” Dr. Johnson
“Fairness is the philosophical equivalent of the Tooth Fairy.” Thaddeus R. Venture
Before we begin it should be said that much of what follows could be seen as yet another feeble attempt at repeating myself. That’s why I’d like to encourage you to not think of it as one more boorish blog entry, but an attempt to prove that Nietzsche’s concept of the eternal recurrence is correct.
If that doesn’t work for you then feel free to think of this as a sad old man who keeps saying, “I do and I do and I do for you kids and what thanks do I get?”
Bring your service revolver, Watson. We might have need of it before this is over.
Going around the dial last weekend I came up The Seven Percent Solution, Herbert Ross’s 1976 tale of the time Sherlock Holmes met Sigmund Freud. Near the end of the movie there’s a train chase and the engineer tells Holmes he’s run out of coal. To maintain their forward momentum pursuit Holmes instructs Watson and Freud to bring him anything that will burn. As the chase peaks we see that the wooden benches of the train have all been thrown into the fire as well as the curtains, the luggage, and the siding of the cars. At that point there still isn’t sufficient fuel so one by one Watson jettisons the cars living only the engine to carry on.
If you can think of a better analogy for what happened last week please post it in the comment section below.
Years ago I said that the GOP as well as the entire conservative movement was becoming nothing less that the American equivalent of the Chinese Revolutionary Red Guard.
So go head – have Kavanaugh.
But … but …. but we’re Steve and Debbie. We like candlelight dinners and long walks on the beach. Our turnoffs are pushy people and smokers!
NB: What follows IS NOT another discussion of individuality being illusory.
So take a minute, find a free finger, and pull the wad out of your unders.
For the past several months I’ve been thinking about institutions, specifically how we shape them, how they shape us, and what we get out of it. All of this grew out of something that bubbled up out of the primordial warm mud in my head – the memory of an old professor who taught Rousseau by way of what we now call Second Wave Feminism. (SWF) (i.e. the Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Bella Abzug era) Since Rousseau thought people were fine but their institutions were corrupt, my old prof said that what SWF did was make women examine the institution of womanhood which in turn, albeit unexpectedly and most grudgingly, made men consider the institution of manhood. Back then, and much like now, people were also supposed to consider the institutions of race and simultaneously.
And then, like now, everybody lost their spit.
Steve and Debbie do not want to hear how they are part of interlocking events and relationships that invisibly shape their lives. They just want you to shut the hell up so they can enjoy their General Foods cinnamonny (sic) Cafe Vienna International Coffee.
Moving along –
Here’s a few places where institutions intrude without much notice, but finally make you consider their nature:
Absorption – Media, celebrity, and legal institutions reduced Rodney King, Nicole Brown, and Ronald Goldman to footnotes. Their real selves are now gone, we know nothing of them.
Failure – Where do you want to start, the Catholic Church or White Guy Inc.? When those two women pushed their way into the elevator with Jeff Flake it’s gonna be mighty tough to go out for a round of golf with the boys to see how to fix this one.
This morning an illustrated guide on How to Pray for The Church arrived in one of my streams. Not the victims, nor the priests who failed their parishes, but The Church.
Hubris – As the parents of someone who likes to use the term “Boomer Cultural Hegemony” Torday’s n+1 novel comes as no surprise. (OK – for us it comes as no surprise.) There’s no point in repeating what’s been said endlessly about the Boomers’ self-absorbed nature. Instead I take exception to the Torday’s characters descending on Bob Weir’s house. That would at least leave some old hippie thinking, “By God, the little punks did learn something from us!” The better place for agitprop would be at one of Billy Joel’s ongoing dates at Madison Square Garden or The Eagles playing Vegas.
That would hit Steve and Debbie right where they live.
If you take a minute and look it all – BLM, #metoo, neoliberalism, unemployed coal miners, the culture wars, identity politics -our institutions have moved into plain sight and in some cases even been weaponized against us. Everything on the list of current events is an invitation to make each and everyone of us examine the institutions in our lives.
And we don’t like that.
Not even one little bit.
Your love gives me such a thrill, but your lovin’ don’ t pay my bills
Somewhere around the midpoint of the last century Norman Mailer found himself in a Manhattan loft along with a few of his peers – Capote, (“ballsy little guy”) Kerouac, (“lacks discipline, intelligence, honesty, and a sense of the novel) and Bellow (“a style I find self-willed and unnatural”). True to his form Norman claimed to have dominated the room, consuming the cocktails handed to him and occasionally helping himself to someone else’s liquor. This past week Th’ Perfesser managed to do something similar. Like Mailer Th’ Perfesser squared his shoulders, took a stance, his weight balanced equally between his two feet, and dared to take on all comers becoming a literary lion to a kaffeeklatsch full of NPR tote- baggers.
Or at least that’s what we’ve heard.
I couldn’t be there as I had a photo shoot at a dinner held by a group of white guys mostly my age who one after another storide up to the dias to everybody gathered how there’s not one single problem in this world that can’t be solved over a round of golf with the fellas.
Coin of the realm for Th’ Perfesser’s management is something they call “vibes” which are supposed to wash over you like a handful of Madame DuBerry Bath Beads thrown in the tub which will eventually leave you wonderfully fragrant and a bit moist. Th’ Perfesser claims these “vibes” are perfectly good, but we fail to see what utility these “vibes” provide.
Look, whether you call it Late Stage Capitalism or Capitalism’s Sad Last Days (tm pend) we hold fast to the idea that if you want me to consult, amplify, or photograph whatever you and your ilk are up to then it’s cash or check (well … check with appropriate i-d) and you can put that BitCoin back wherever you found it.
Because nobody understands the blockchain.
Have we read Th’ Perfesser’s work for which he was being lionized?
No, it’s far too complicated for us right now. We don’t have the mental bandwidth to deal with it because it all goes back to the question, “Does you son have required summer reading?”
Yes, he assigned Kafka to his mother while I got the usual compilation of contemporary continental thinkers.
A couple of weeks ago we were in the mood for some lighter reading, but we couldn’t find any. You know, lighter reading – Andy Capp collections, Harold Robbins first editions, Ripon Society brochures, Rod McKuen’s Listen to the Warm – reading so effortless that it’s like taking a nap without all the fuss and bother of having to lie down and close your eyes. We tore up the living room and were eventually forced out into the night to seek out a Barnes and Nobel.
That’s merely a statement of fact.
We are not trying to elicit pity.
Eventually we’ll make it up to Th’ Perfesser. Not only will we read his book we’ll invite him over to watch what Alaska Wolf Joe’s grandfather called “The World Serious” on our small-screen tv and offer him his choice of General Food International Coffee selections.
Excuse us now as we must pen a note of regret and send it along to Th’ Perfesser.
“(Jonathan) Davis seems happier now. After divorcing his first wife in 2000, he settled down four years later with former porn star Deven Davis, and had two sons, Pirate and Zeppelin. (Davis’s first son from his previous marriage, Nathan, will turn 23 this fall.) He is now, literally, a dad rocker. Occasionally, this middle-aged chill is disrupted and his conservative streak flares up—like in 2014, when he went on Infowars and called Barack Obama “an Illuminati puppet.” But for the most part, Davis is happy to still be here, so many years after metal was nu, with his band intact.” – Steven Hyden
(Editor’s Note: In the 72 hours since The Ringer article was published, Jonathan Davis’s estranged wife, Deven Davis was found dead. As of this writing no cause has been found.)
“Wheat is the most widely cultivated crop on the planet, accounting for about a fifth of all calories consumed by humans and more protein than any other food source. Although we have relied on bread wheat so heavily and for so long (14,000 years-ish), an understanding of its genetics has been a challenge. Its genome has been hard to solve because it is ridiculously complex. The genome is huge, about five times larger than ours. It’s hexaploid, meaning it has six copies of each of its chromosomes. More than 85 percent of the genetic sequences among these three sets of chromosome pairs are repetitive DNA, and they are quite similar to each other, making it difficult to tease out which sequences reside where. The genomes of rice and corn—two other staple grain crops—were solved in 2002 and 2009, respectively. In 2005, the International Wheat Genome Sequencing Consortium determined to get a reference genome of the bread wheat cultivar Chinese Spring. Thirteen years later, the consortium has finally succeeded.” – Diana Gitig
“Agriculture not only gives riches to a nation, but the only riches she can call her own.”- Dr. Johnson
Science Humbles (local) Man
The past five days have created enough angst for three people. As posted above, scientists have cracked what’s genetic code. While having lunch and listening to the radio news a couple of days ago one of those countless people who speak with a perfect Oxford accent leaned into one of the BBC’s microphones and calmly said, “This might try well prove that wheat is more complex than human DNA.”
First science tells us we’re dumb as a bag of hair when compared to whales, porpoises, and dolphins. So now we have to compete with whole grains to see who’s the top dog on the planet?
In my dotage I don’t think as fast as I used to that’s why it took me the better part of an hour to remember that I was consuming a sandwich while finding out that wheat is complicated. That at least to some comfort. Knowing that while some portion of wheat was making it through my digestive tract at least assured me that I still have a place high up on the food chain. Granted, it’s a toe hold these days given summertime shark attacks and a pack of hippos who think they’re The New Manson Family.
As the afternoon wore on a question started to form in the back recesses of what’s left of my mind – given its new found status how long do we have to wait until wheat is politicized?
Now that science has labelled wheat as flora’s anger to the black-turtleneck and tweed-jacket types how long do we have to wait until we get the conservative response to wheat? How long do we have to sit around waiting for the Q-Anon to put forth the idea that all this gluten business is wheat plotting against us?
And where the hell is Jordan Peterson?
All this goddam time he’s nothing but Lobsters! Lobsters! Lobsters! When he should have been studying The Pillbury Dough Boy (TPDB). Setting aside the play on words that comes straight out of American military history, we can see that TPDB in unencumbered, free of a female counterpart trying to compromise his journey across time.
How is it that Peterson has failed to make TPDB his Zarathustra?
If some farmer out in the Dakotas hasn’t called his extension agent to wonder why he’s got a whole acre of wheat getting all heated up over a discussion of Goddard’s La Chinoise, then why hasn’t Peterson proclaimed The Pillsbury Doughboy as the rope between the lowly ape and wheat?
You can digest that all later – we’re moving on to other grains now.
“Korn, Manson, Bizkit—that was the golden age of music, I believe. And after us, it died.”
Before we get started – this is not strictly about people who make it into their middle years only make pop-culture boobs of themselves in public.*
Mom is a bit tired of me using the word ‘elderly.’ Lately I’ve taken to using the word to describe people who have a little bit of trouble coping with modern times. I will spot you this – the 21st Century is a bit new in the larger scheme of human history, but most of us have been living in it long enough that we should act like it instead of coming off like Ricky and Lucy fresh out of the time machine.
Case in point –
Getting coffee the other day I ran into a couple we know. Both were rather agitated by an full page ad that ran in the local paper.
HER:DID YOU SEE THAT AD?!?!?! ME: We don’t take the paper. HIM: It was a whole page, a whole page, who has that kind of money? ME: We haven’t taken the paper in over 15 years. HIM: But you saw it, didn’t you? HER: It was right there on the inside. ME: I haven’t touched a paper in… HER: (speaking slowly) OK, there’s the front page… and … you turn it… HIM: And there it was! HER: That one! ME: ohhhhhhhh thhhhhhhahhhhht one …
In my dotage I’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to let people walk away thinking you’re a bit feeble minded so you can make more efficient use of The Quality Time Remaining. Put another way – the idea of 10 minutes you’re never getting back is something you feel more acutely at this stage of life so it’s better to move along.
Which is what we shall do.
The upshot of my use of ‘elderly’ came back to bite me in the butt this week. Someone recently asked what was the last superstar rock era act. I said that I thought it was U2, a band fronted by the self-beatifying Lithuanian-shopping-center mogul, Bono. A few hours later I discovered that it was in fact Korn who created the last known mass media panic when, as the particle points out, 9000 teenagers descended on Manhattan for a look at the group.
At least the article left me with one small scrap of dignity when Mr. Davis said his was a golden age and after him there was nothing.
Now that’s ‘elderly.’
As ‘elderly’ as me assuming that conventional rock superstardom stopped with U2.
What I’d like to know is why this golden age thing is so ubiquitous?
Several years ago I got an email from a guy who wanted me to join some sort of FB group made up of people mostly our age so the two of us could go on and on and on about how great the music in our day was. I don’t remember most of the 10 or 12 paragraphs in total that he sent, but I do remember that he kept using the phrase, “If we’d been born a couple of years either way we would have missed it!”
Yeah, you said it, pal!
A couple of inches either direction and we would have taken the disco era right between the eyes!
Early in the week the subject circled back around when Alaska Wolf Joe wanted to compare certain Starbucks beverages to over-the-counter medications. Strictly out of boredom I tried Starbucks new super extra strawberry flavored strawberry Frappachino. Driving along I did not realize that AWJ was sitting in the passenger seat studying the new super strawberry Frrappichino until he asked, “Does it taste like cough syrup?”
Sorry no Robitussin notes hiding in the heady like Vick’s nose of that beast.
“Don’t they make it with cough syrup to make it look like that?”
That’s when I politely asked if we could talk about something else. AWJ complied and brought up some new FB group he joined as part of something he’s involved with. “You might be surprised,” he said, “people still use ‘What bands do you like?’as an icebreaker.”
That was surprising as I thought it would be what video games do you play. AWJ that is also asked, but not as often which lead me to ask what kind of bands get talked about.
“Normie shit, you know, like what Fleetwood Mac was in your day. They were normie shit, right?”
You would have be hard pressed back then to find anybody normie-er or shittier.
In my day music was the big dowsing rod for finding your ilk. (As The Perfesser once pointed out Frank Zappa was not only a musician, he was also a way of finding your fellow weirdo. You know, “I like Frank. You like Frank. So you must be a weirdo like me! Let’s go pick on some normies listening to Bob Segar.!”) Over time it seems the big icebreaker evolves into hating the music of today and bonding with your fellow old spoot over what might be your common golden age of tunes.
Isn’t that what the guy with the FB group was all about? Somewhere in all that prose about his gizmo that held 100 cd’s, the $500 headphones, and the Firefall box set wasn’t there a call to action? A call to seek out our fellow old farts who also lived through his tightly defined golden age?
I’ll never know as I didn’t write back. While he had a great deal to say I got all caught up in the Firefall box set. Speaking of normie shit – the very thought of a Firefall box set makes me want to take a shower.
Lastly – I find this paragraph to be a double-edged sword.
If the internet brought about the “… and then everything changed” part of Korn’s Behind the Music story, perhaps the internet can also be credited with the band’s longevity. The days when cultural movements would come along and sweep away yesterday’s news are over. Any band with grassroots appeal, no matter how maligned by critics and the mainstream media, can stick around forever. Over time, controversies fade and stigmas evaporate. At some point, future generations will come around to discovering you. “Freak on a Leash” now has nearly 100 million spins on Spotify. When Generation Z hears bands like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park the music registers as classic rock.
Feel free to consider that at your leisure.
The upshot of it all is that most of us – musically – live in our own golden age. We lose touch with the new stuff and for us Late Stage Boomers it seems impossible to keep up. That’s why I think the Internet has done something contrary to the above quote – today you can experience so much that there is no hierarchy. When we were kids you could say The Beatles were the biggest thing out there and after they broke up The Stones were the biggest things out there, but when they took a couple years off Zep was the biggest thing out there … and so on and so on and so forth. We go forth intimidated thinking we don’t understand the hierarchy so we might well wander into something that we might find embarrassing when in fact all hierarchies no longer carry the same weight they once did.
You can’t expect a hierarchy when none exist and you can’t depend on a hierarchy that’s been devalued.
And that’s the sort of thing that makes your average Late Stage Boomer very, very nervous.
Soif you find yourself to be nervous this week – dig deep.
Conquer your inner ‘elderly’ self.
Quit taking the paper, go listen to Kendrick, and for Godsake let’s all look around and see if we can find a better musical anthem that celebrates wheat and the humans who tend to it than this normie shit.
* Whatever you do please don’t correct him when he says ‘Blinded by the Light’ was written by Manford Mann. kthxbai
“Provocation for provocation’s sake will never win you any converts, to say it another way, if you are owning the libs just to own the libs, your victory will be short-lived and your audience will remain small.” Orin Hatch
“I know that it’s fun and that it can feel good, but step back and think about what you’re accomplishing when you do this — are you persuading anyone? Who are you persuading?” Haley asked. “We’ve all been guilty of it at some point or another, but this kind of speech isn’t leadership — it’s the exact opposite.” Nikki Haley
“Hey, you, Zombie! I’m the only wrinkly, old, gray monster who can terrorize my family, OK?” – Stan Pines
“The neo-Marxist analysis of society, in which we are all mere appendages of various groups of oppressors and oppressed, and in which the oppressed definitionally cannot be at fault, is now the governing philosophy of almost all liberal media. That’s how … the New York Times can hire and defend someone who expresses racial hatred.” Andrew Sullivan
THE AUTOPSY OF THE STRIKE: The Renault strike of March-April 1973 constituted a general repetition of this crisis. Apparently confused, uncoordinated, manipulated, and in the final analysis, a failure (except for the extraordinary terminological victory that consisted in the once taboo term ‘semi-skilled worker’ being replaced with the term, ‘agent of production)… This strike was the beautiful swan song for the unions caught between the rank-and-file and the bosses. From the outset it was unleashed by semi-skilled foreign workers.” Jean Baudrillard c. 1976
“We’ve got fundamentalist Muslims, we’ve got fundamentalist Jews, we’ve got fundamentalist Christians and they’ll blow the whole thing up for you. But as I travel around this big old world there’s one thing that I most fear – it’s a white man in a golf shirt with a cell phone in his ear.”Tom Russell (c. 2007)
“My dear friend, clear your mind of can’t. You may talk as other people do. You may say to a man, ‘Sir, I am your most humble servant.’ You are not his most humble servant. You may say, ‘These are sad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved to such times.’ You don’t mind the times. You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don’t care six-pence whether he was wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.” Dr. Johnson
This was one of those weeks packed with riveting excitement. Alaska Wolf Joe and I both had UPS deliveries coming on the same day which normally wouldn’t be a big deal except for the small fact that neither one of us would be around and his package had to be signed for. Luckily the UPS guy was coming up the walk as I was leaving so I was able to accept AWJ’s big-ass box. I texted him to say I got it and he texted back, “Delivery confirmation says, ‘Gave to Customer Man.'”
Yes, Customer Man, Engine of the economy!
In our last episode you’ll remember Customer Man’s arch-nemesis, The Recession, stripped our hero of his wallet and turned him loose inside WalMart on Customer Appreciation Day. Finding an old unused Discover Card in his sock Customer Man reaches for a nearby shopping cart and says, “This calls for The Invisible Hand!”
Some days this stuff just writes itself.
Not so much.
Case in point – I got an email saying somebody somewhere said something nice about me on the Internet(s).The people on the sending side of the note are of the belief that failure to make nice-nice is a federal crime ergo they were expecting a quick response on my part. I reminded them that they used to go to some trouble to tell me, “We would have invited you to (function) but everyone was afraid you’d say something.”
Darn tootin’ I would and it would have been a good one too. It would have been one of those things that a normal person would truly and sincerely regret say, but – if you’ve read this page for any length of time – you’d know that I would not only be good with it, I might just have to write it down for future use. That always lead to the people who sent the note coming back with, “Why do you always think you can get away with that?”
Because I am Customer Man, Engine of the Economy! (QED)
Moving along –
Got another email saying that this page is all about how we’re screwed (which is obvious) but at least it try to convey some context as to why we’re screwed.
Along those lines –
Clap back at the Wolfman cuz he diss’d you record, Dude!
As some of you have heard, Andrew Sullivan called the NY Times a Neo-Marxist publication a couple of days ago. Upon hearing this our house filled up with waves of convulsive laughter. Sully’s little bon mot was just the pick me up we needed at the end of a long and difficult week.
So what was it all about?
Earlier in the week one of the shameless wags in one of my Tweety groups said someone needs to categorize different types of outrages as it was the Tweetist’s opinion that some outrage is strictly for show. Put another way – some outrage is strictly theatrical virtue signaling.
With that – here’s a stab at it in no particular order:
– Genuine Outrage. Someone steals your car, drives it around for a few days then sets fire to it leaving nothing behind but a burnt frame.
– Targeted Outrage – information used to keep a for-profit media outlet on track with its branding. (e.g. programming found on any of the cable news channels after 6pm local time)
– Addictive Outrage – info which keeps the questionably angry, well … questionably angry. Recent Internet slang calls such folks “Outrage Whores.”
– Theatrical Outrage – any outrage which can be described as Gamergate-like in form and execution.
Please note that these are not absolutes but merely arbitrary boundaries. In any given case there will most likely be some combination of all of the above brought to any given situation as we cannot get past the simple fact that expressed human emotion is much like giving cotton candy to a 5 year-old on a hot day. Some will be consumed, some will miss the mark, but after a certain amount of time everybody’s going to need a washcloth.
The most interesting thing to rise up out of Sarah Jeong vs. Quinn Norton is the associated collapse of a major conservative trope. Outrage did not take down Sarah Jeong nor Dan Harmon. As we speak – every passing minute brings us closer to James Gunn being reinstated as the director of Guardians 3.
Another collapsing trope is the use of the word ‘pedophile’ in casual conversation. It was once used to be the final word on all matters regarding the concept of relativism, but it eventually grew to be an all purpose invective. With the rise of Q-anon we find that the word has become something like a call to wage a holy war, free from all legal and psychological definition.
You can be as mad as you want about all that, but trope collapse is at the heart of what Senator Hatch and Ambassador Hailey were talking about. A series of tropes will let you “own the libs” but it is not a cohesive body of political thought.
And as a quick aside – “ownership” doesn’t really exist as those mostly like to play that game have no communication with the other side so the acting of “owning” is either never seen nor in context to those who would be owned. Think of it as taking great pride at how well you shouted into an empty room.
In other news –
“BECAUSE THE FUTURE IS WHERE WE WILL SPEND THE REST … OF … OUR …LIVES!” Criswell
After we caught our breath from Sully’s remarks about what is and is not Neo-Marxist culture I asked Alaska Wolf Joe if he thought Neo-Marxism would have more followers if the NM’s would quit using the term “late stage capitalism” and instead take something out of the Nation Enquirer’s playbook and call it, “Capitalism’s Sad Last Days?”
Symbolic Exchange was largely composed in the early 1970s and eventually published in 1976. Several critics have said it accurately predicted our present Neo-liberal system. Baudrillard strives to proves that Marx no longer applies to our times. His underpinning is that he suggests that labor is merely a commodity. He tries to take it out of its 19th Century moorings and comes close to calling it a romantic notion. Eventually the worker becomes not so much a living being caught in the system, but one more item thrown on top of that pile of stuff which constitutes cost equalling the price of the last item produced.
You’ll note from the above quote that the 1973 French auto strike revolved around foreign workers. At roughly the same time Germany struggled with accommodating foreigner workers as they did not fit well into the German scheme of guilds. Therefore we have to conclude that fitting the outside worker into the flow of any national economy is a problem that comes up now and then and no one has any idea what to do. Perhaps, we should look at the practice of politics like the ancient Greeks and see it all as a series of great circles as it does not fit in with the more popular Western view of history being a linear beast.
What little I have to offer of proof of all that comes from this little country ditty from 2008.