Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Something very exciting, which I discovered while researching pre-historic Europe for the post below, is that for centuries in, I'm not sure if it was during the 'Bronze Age' period, or the neolithic, a hunter-FISHER culture existed in Northeastern Europe, which would be the European parallel to Hunter-Gatherer civilizations elsewhere. By Northeastern Europe I mean Southern Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Someone with more time on their hands should really research this, because it's totally genuine in terms of historical evidence and also very exciting in it's potential ramifications for western attempts to get behind or before 'civilization' colonized Europe.
Sure to piss people off.

In relation to what's written below, Byzantine Christianity is half pagan anyways.
Getting back to basics.

Fundamentally.

--------------------

I think that there's a basic dysfunction in Western society, something wrong with it which seperates it from the rest of the world and which leads it to consistantly produce fucked up creations which do horrible things.

Where did it start, what can we do about it?

I think that the culprit was the beginning of the Holy Roman Empire after the fall of Rome.

What happened as a result of the German colonization of Europe was something qualitatively different than what previous colonizations and wars fought over territory and goods produced.

In all of the other examples of this, including all of Eastern and Byzantine Europe (with the exception of Russia), goods are fought over, territory conquered, but the war of ideas never happens. Or if it does it's limited to a small section of the population.

But the Germans who colonized Italy, France, and England, during the second wave of German migrations sought to build on the upper class traditions of the power they conquered: the Roman Empire; and, through a combination of military government and a fusion of tribal concepts with established law, sought to impose their own take on what society should look like, onto Europe, from the top down.

That is what made the medieval synthesis so damn oppressive.

Taking the religious as well as Roman derived and military elements away from the mix for a moment, it should be noted that the people who were subject to the Carolingian empire, the Holy Roman Empire, already had their own tribal ways of life, and so the medieval synthesis was an obliteration of their own world.

What happened was that some people went halfway with the conquerors and adopted a partially indigenous, partially germanicized, version of social relationships and ways of looking at the world.

But their wasn't an option to opt out, and there wasn't a reason for these communities to have to compromise in the first place.

Without wanting to idealize the pagan past, I'll say that when people look for what is so often noted in contacts with non-western cultures, that they seem to be self governing and have little need for states or nations, they would probably be able to find places like that all over pre-Medieval Europe if there was some way of going back and taking a look.

Which is not to say that there were all of these little utopias floating around; there were rulers and warlords and federations and temporary empires and all the rest, however, the authoritarian glue which made the middle ages invade all areas of life was probably missing.

And where there is a vacuum, there is freedom.

Eastern Europe was probably like this for quite some time as well, with Russia being the exception to the rule because it's form of government proceeded from the ultra-authoritarian rule of the Golden Horde grouping of mongolians.

Byzantine empire in it's relations with it's provinces was probably like this, as was Rome to a certain extent, even though it was wrong for other reasons.

This sort of Pagan freedom is recoverable, and would make a great counterweight to the trouble that Western society is bringing about.

The way I see it, the worst aspects of modernity, those which, unfortunately, came from the underside of the enlightenment, are just the total worldview of the middle ages turned upside down.

The opposite of the medieval worldview, which was total and religious, isn't the stereotypical bourgeois worldview, which is still total but is now divested of religious content and instead presents an enourmous maw which anything can go into.

Or rather, the way to get rid of medieval scholasticism isn't to proceed the way we have but to cut the gordian knot by going before it and beyond it, by discarding this sense of authoritarian culture altogether.

This sort of federated, pagan, government, would be anarchist.

I use the word pagan here reservedly. Surely this is what these villiages were, in large part, but I part company with all those who see in Paganism the germ of some 'national consciousness' which a fascist revolution would put into place, etc.. etc... etc...

What paganism was back then could easily be translated into today's world as simply a close relationship with nature, with your locality, with the other human beings you live and work with, and, by, collective decisionmaking, family (in the best sense of the word), and quite a few other things which have no real religious meaning at all.

And to those who think that paganism=some sort of ancient fascism, the truth is that all paganism, ancient and modern, is completely localized and about as far away from "national consciousness" as you could get. Modern paganism referring to actual peoples of the world, mostly non-western, who actually practice pagan religions in their natural form, not what you can buy at the bookstore.

Things like having similar creation myths do not pagan unity make.

And don't even get me started on the fallacies of George Dumezil. See comment above.

Structure, by it's very nature, follows something external to it. Dumezil turns this basic idea on it's head, and in so doing is no more right than anyone else who comes up with unworkable and unverifiable speculative schemes.

But all that aside, we can recover a real freedom, we can discard the authoritarian inheritance of the middle ages once and for all and come to something more in tune with the world around us and it's peoples, in terms of freedom and harmony, if we try.

And don't think that I'm beating up on the Germans. They do, like the Celts and the Slavs, the Italians and the Greeks, have traditionally had collaborative decisionmaking institutions---the Ting, Thing, or Allthing---it's just that some of their brothers migrated south and became authoritarian on the way under military guidance from the people of their tribes in charge of it.

And Scandinavia itself is outside of feudalism anyways.

Ok, I'll cut this short here.

'till next time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Damn.

Charles H. Kerr Publishers has just put out an anthology of writings by Lucy Parsons. I'm so itching to get it....it was so close yet so far...

It's somewhat cheaper than buying the $42 book "The Haymarket Martyrs" by Paul Avrich, which is also good, and which you should get from the library or your local community college.

If you want to find some American Anarchists that kicked ass, look no further than Albert and Lucy Parsons. They were the real thing, they kicked ass and took names, and never compromised.

Joeseph Labadie is also good as well, and there's an excellent biography of him out by his grandson, if you can find it.



Monday, March 29, 2004

I.
Paganism.

If I'm not mistaken, there's going to be a massive rebirth of paganism in the coming years.

I say this not as some sort of zealot who wants this to happen and is proselytizing for it, but as someone who observes sociological trends.

I wouldn't have said this before the astounding success of the Da Vinci Code.

Looking at all of this stuff objectively, cutting away all the crap, the essential thing that the whole Da Vinci orbit of books which are out, and which are being aggressively pushed by bookstores, say, or communicate, is a way back to a living pagan belief system via deconstructing and reconstructing some of the essential symbolism which has shaped western culture for a few thousand years.

I could give a more detailed explanation of why this is, drawing on the aims of the Surrealists and others, but that would be quite a long detour.

The fact is: people have been reading, and getting interested in, the Da Vinci code by the droves. What the Da Vinci code presents is a halfway point between Christianity and paganism. It's only a matter of time before people connect the dots, discard the gnosticism which surrounds the book, and go straight for the real thing, whether that be Roman or Greek paganism or the Celtic, Norse, and other European varieties.

If there's one thing that I've learned from studying popular culture and the development of intellectual movements it's that society functions, in a way, like a massive computer composed of millions of individual micro-processors all working on the same material, and all coming up with one of a small number of possible conclusions that can be drawn from said material.

People figure stuff out on their own, and often 'intellectuals' are just people who have taken the obvious range of conclusions and pursued them farther, and more publicly, than others. They aren't neccesarily really more perceptive than other people, unless what they deal with is a speciality that needs particular, generally not accessable, knowledge as a given to pursue that kind of work.

People will undoubtedly make the connection on their own; whether or not it'll be the firestorm that the original book caused remains to be seen, but the symbolism and thought patterns created by the book will remain with us, for better or for worse.

It doesn't really matter whether or not all of this 'history' that the book and it's companions present really occurred, although the more recent stuff naturally has a better chance of being true (because we just can't know that much about the ancient world with certainty), what matters is that the authors have navigated the western hermeneutic and arrived at a new place which can be understood by mass numbers of people without a specialized background.

Again, what this bodes for our culture remains to be seen, but I have a feeling that behind Dan Brown there stand some pretty astute people who have a good sense of what is possible and what isn't in terms of changing people's belief systems and creating new things.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Wild cat strikes.

In this age of beurocratic domination and cooptation, I think that the idea of Wildcat strikes holds the most promise as a way for people in the working class to assert their rights and to gain in class struggle.

A Wild Cat strike is simply a strike which the workers declare themselves without the permission of the union, and which doesn't recognize normal means of mediation etc...

In the U.S. the labor laws are so arcane and pointless that it's better just to dispense with them all together, get yourself and a few co-workers together, declare YOURSLEVES to be a union with specific demands, strike, and rely on your friends and neighbors in the community to provide for you while on strike in the spirit of mutual aid.

That's how things can get done in the U.S. Just cut the gordian knot. And, as well, don't submit to the labor relations boards, make them submit to you.

The system is designed to kill worker initiative, assert it. Unions started just this way: as workers declaring themselves to be unions, acting together, and forcing the employers to do something about it. They didn't start as grand schemes like the AFL-CIO which deigned to take notice of the little people and help them out.

Whatt matters the most is you and your conditions of work, what you get; what you depend on, what you should depend on, is what you depend on already, which is your friends, family, and neighbors. Together you can launch strikes which will change the face of labor relations in your town and in your county as a whole.

Rely as much on the local as possible; push for councils made up of local workers having a say in the direction of the enterprise.

It can happen if you make it happen. And people can make it happen.

In the face of the authoritarianism which has characterized so much of the last hundred or so years it may be one of the only rational responses left to capitalism which can work.

This is true Autonomia.

If you believe in Autonomy and workers' autonomy you should support Wild Cat strikes, right here in the U.S., because that was how Workers' Autonomy got started in Italy. That WAS what workers' autonomy was: workers at Fiat plants deciding that only they, and not the unions, represented themselves and that only they could deal with their particular problems.

So, Wild cat strikes in defiance of what the union wanted, based in the traditions of the community, meant to address local problems and establish council representatives chosen by the workers in the plants happened. And won.

It can do the same thing here, as well.

The strategy may have to be complexified because of the fragmented nature of the service industry in the U.S., which makes up quite a bit of our economy, but that only implies that we need more mutual aid and more sympathetic striking, where people in non-related industries act in solidarity with wild cat strikers in their own wild cat walkouts.

It has to be adressed both in the industries serving production and those serving consumption but it can be done. And it should be done by workers to establish a decent standard of living for themselves and for their communities.
Of NASCAR dads and the current economic recession.

Right now the recession, lack of jobs, generally bad economy, has started to filter into popular culture, with folk/country singers now discovering class, class struggle, and working class themes...

Hmm.

I hate to say it, but there's more than a little hypocracy in all of this.

When the inner cities were melting down because of crack cocaine in the eighties and early nineties, fueled by intense poverty and economic misfunction, these people had nothing to say about it.

In fact, the behavior of the NASCAR dads was nothing short of reprehensable.

I make a distinction here between people who identify themselves primarily with the dominant Anglo culture, who aren't ethnic, and who are working class, other 'white' workers, heavily ethnic workers, and then latinos, blacks, middle easterners, native americans, asian american workers.

My ire is mostly directed to the first category of worker, the one which gets the most benefits from doing the least work and which thinks it's the natural master of this country and that everyone else is an interloper.

These workers, who are now being hit by the recession, voted for Republicans who vowed to, and succeeded in, ending welfare. They supported welfare 'reform', they supported the 'three strikes' law in California, they supported high penalties for drug users, they supported and support any subsidies for public housing, they support ending programs which focus on rehabilitating people convicted of crimes as opposed to prison sentenes which just punish, they opposed affirmative action, they opposed measures against racial profiling, they opposed hate crimes bills, the list goes on and on.

All of these things were designed to hurt minority communities, to hurt blacks and latinos, and they have. Also they've hurt Native Americans, but that's a whole 'nother story the outlining of which would double the size of this entry. But to get back on track.

For over two decades these NASCAR dad working class people have supported political positions designed to destroy minorities, to take down the standard of living for minorities and make it harder for minorities to participate in American society at any level, not just in the elite spheres accessable by college but in any sphere above the most menial manual labor. Now they themselves are feeling what it's like to fall on hard times and not have any means of getting out of it.

They made an alliance with rich white people, conservatives, and it worked for a little while, but capitalism knows no skin color, and now it's their turn to fall under the cruel laws of economics.

All I can say is you get what you pay for.

What goes around comes around.

It's not good that more people are suffering, but I can't help but hope that a good number of these NASCAR dads will experience this sort of extended poverty for a long time, that they'll stew in it, and that hopefully it'll teach them a lesson.


There isn't a damn thing that they're experiencing that blacks, latinos, and native americans haven't experienced ten fold.
Oh happy day.

Today is the official two year anniversary of this blog. It started March 28 2002.

More postings to come.

Friday, March 26, 2004

How all his came about.

Oh, I remember now, it started with Picasso, the Rennaisance, and Byzantine art.

The Rennaisance is the beginning of what is commonly thought of as representational art in the west. What comes before that is in places ridiculed as being characiture or cartoonish, but, because of the commonality between the pre-Rennaisance styles and the Byzantine style of painting we know that this is not true. The Byzantine style, which can be seen today in the Iconography of Orthodox Christianity,
is self consciously stylized in order to communicate specific qualities about the subject. So it may be for medieval painting.

The paralell with Picasso is quite interesting because Picasso can be seen as the person who definitively took painting away from representation and into something which, while being partially representational, nevertheless was more than just an extension of the non-representational parts of painting which are omni-present. The fauves, Gaugan, most of the expressionists, could be seen as extenders of those parts rather than true innovators in the way that Picasso was. And the school of modern art which discards reprentation and instead focusses exclusively on the non-representational parts of art has little to with what Picasso was up to either.

An extension is not a qualitatively different change. Picasso made a change not just of quantity but of quality, which attempted to change painting in the way that the transition from medieval to Rennaisance painting changed painting.

The methods, ideas, and means, are similar. Although it's not referenced many places, I think that what Picasso was attempting through his extended experimentation (which led to cubism) was to deconstruct western painting and sculpture and come to the bottom of it. For Picasso, I think, the bottom of it led to West Africa. I think that the case could be made that Picasso believed that the precursors of Spanish, and possibly Latin, art, society, and culture, lay in Africa and that by successively going back---first to the South of France, then to Iberian sculpture, then to African sculpture---he was discovering the personal roots of representational art. The essence of it. And the essence lay in the representation of exterior and interior qualities of a subject through the stylization and distortion of African sculpture.

By getting back to African sculpture Picasso breaks with the representational tradition established by the Rennaisance and gets to something closer to the Byzantine stylizations of medieval art.

Leonardo Da Vinci.

After all the cant which has been written about Leonardo I'd like to put forward some real, justifiable, thoughts on the subject of the man's philosophy.

Particularly, where his philosophical thoughts fall in relation to the history of philosophy.

His philosophical musings are rather odd in that, well, for a couple of reasons, the first being that he appears to have been totally convinced that a thing does not exist apart from all of the different ways in which it can appear to the eye.

That's sort of strange, but what's more curiouser, you could say, is that this Rennaisance man's philosophy is actually a mixture of medieval and rennaisance philosophy, not the pure sort of rennaisance philosophy found, for example, in Pico di Mirandola's works.

Specifically, Leonardo's thought seems to be a mixture of Neo-Platonism and the medieval platonism which proceeded from Plotinus, which became the source of philosophy for the west after the fall of the Roman empire, and which stayed in that position until Aquinas reintroduced Aristotle.

Even stranger is that the Medieval Platonists appear to have mattered more to Leonardo's thought than the Neo-Platonists, who were his contemporaries, did.

The results of this, though, are positive rather than negative; for the Neo-Platonists of the Rennaisance, in working out a humanistic philosophy based on those principles, fell into what G.K. Chesterton, in his biography of Aquinas, contended that the pre-Thomist Christian theorists went wrong on: constructing a very elaborate theoretical framework which, despite it's care, has little to do with the thinking and feeling reality of everyday life.

The Neo-Platonists, in talking about man in cosmic terms, tend to sever their connection with man as a mortal being incarnated in this world.

The Medieval philosophers who built on Plotinus, meanwhile, never lost that essential connection to the tangible, and that connection is what Leonardo grafts his Neo-Platonist ideas onto, making his presentation of the world as a series of images in some way coming from a final nature a more realistic presentation about how the world actual appears and feels to people.

One can both intellectually and practically understand where Leonardo is coming from, which, by the way, is what he declares his whole point to be in his remarks about the neccesity of learning from experience as opposed to just repeating what books have said about a subject.

Interesting stuff.

Cursor.org - Table of Contents page

Interesting story got via the Cursor page.

Rumsfeld, it seems, is now saying that actions following 9/11 were 'law enforcement issues'.

What a complete slap in the face for everyone, myself included, who wanted a truly law abiding response to 9/11 in the days and weeks after it happened.

If there is one thing which typified the administration's response to 9/11 it was it's flagrant disregard for law and it's insistence that 9/11 was a military issue, hence enabling the U.S. to invade Afghanistan in response.

If 9/11 was essentially a law enforcement issue then we had no right to invade Afghanistan and we have no right to be there now.

Thursday, March 25, 2004

Conason article on Clarke

You know, symbolism is a powerful thing, and this article brings up the possibility of 9/11 and Osama bin Laden being prevented and being prevented from acting on America in sum total. What if 9/11 had never have happened?

During the Clinton years terrorism was regarded as aberrant actions by marginalized individuals with no sort of message or relevant ideas behind them.

Bush has elevated bin Laden from an aberrant individual to a valid symbol of evil, which has probably already done, and if not already done will do very quickly, more damage to the U.S. than if he had just responded to 9/11 by saying that it was a criminal act by distorted personalities.

You see, by saying that this is about 'Evil', that we're fighting an 'Axis of Evil', and that the people who committed 9/11 were 'Evil Doers', not just criminals, Bush has gone much more than halfway in doing bin Laden's job for him.

What better help could there be in spreading virulent Islamic fundamentalism than the leader of the country attacked by it responding by acknowledging the religious content of the attacks and positioning himself not just against the people who did it but against the religious ideals which fueled it, and labeling them as evil and saying in just so many words that the U.S. was opposing Islam as a Christian nation confronting the Muslim infidels?

Islam is a decent religion believed in by a billion people around the world, and by treating the ideas of the 9/11 terrorists as if they represented the mainstream of Islamic thought, and labeling that evil, Bush has in all likelihood alienated quite a few people who would otherwise think kindly about the U.S. How could it be otherwise?

He did not need to do that. He could have maintained that these were just isolated extremists who didn't represent anything except themselves, but he chose to slur the beliefs of a huge portion of the globe and, on top of that, to give the person who he is supposedly opposing more credibility than he would ever have had if Bush had just kept his mouth shut.

Which brings me back to the original question: what would have happened if 9/11 hadn't happened, or, rather, what would have happened if 9/11, after happening, had been treated in the way that the Clinton administration treated terrorism?

We'd have been spared this ugly and hateful dredging of the prejudicial and racist depths of the collective unconscious of this country, of having the worst that America represents featured on the front pages and lead stories of countless papers and news networks, day after day after day.

We'd have been spared the opportunity for the U.S to get in touch with it's inner bigot, which, at this point in world history, is quite big.
Former Bush Adviser Apologizes for Sept. 11

Justice is finally being done.

At least Clarke was man enough to accept the blame for 9/11, unlike our courageous commander in chief, who isolates himself in a cone of self imposed ignorance and acts like a mafia don on the run when it comes to 9/11 responsability.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Actually, the author of Don Giovanni was Lorenzo Da Ponte, the librettist, not Mozart. Mozart wrote the music. Ponte should be credited with the story.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Don Giovanni and social evil.

I just finished watching a French film adaptation of Mozart's Don Giovanni, which retained all the arias but adapted it to a film setting instead of keeping it on a stage.

It's food for thought. Don Giovanni is Don Juan, the lover, the adulterer who meets his final doom.

I think that there's a sense of evil which people miss, especially in Protestant countries. Protestantism reduces the devil to a man in a goat suit who tests a person's individual conscience. If you can become aware that you have a clear conscience or that you're mostly a good person, than, voila, you can start discounting the existence of evil as a corrupting force.

But there is a strong sense in which countries as a whole, or towns, or states, or any group, can be susceptable to a sort of debilitating corruption which doesn't confront individuals when they're their strongest---when they're contemplating 'I'----but when they're at their weakest, when they just act non-self consciously according to whatever winds or ideas float into their heads.

A person can be corrupted in this way and maintain a pure conscience, indeed, conscience comes to justify accepting moral corruption into your life.

But it's not a corruption that's specially tailored for you or me, or for some guy down the street, it's forces which tug at society as a whole, indifferent to who they're going for but providing a sort of feather bed of corruption---justified in it's social acceptability---for those who respond to it to rest on.

I think that by conceding that the battle against evil is over by recognizing the true fact that people's consciences aren't naturally twisted to evil ends we've lost the war against a subtler form of corruption which we have no awareness of.

Not that I would like people to think that their consciences are naturally twisted, that's just wrong, but there are other options besides thinking that human beings are totally corrupt in every way, from the most basic level up, and thinking that human beings aren't without any potential tendencies towards corruption at all, if people are generally honest and nice, etc....that that is the other word on society.
Here ye here ye here ye. Ghost Dog Press has been added to my links bar.

Ghost Dog is a new worker run alternative poetry press coming out of Ann Arbor which will be publishing some very interesting stuff in the coming months.

It's first book, "Gone", by Jimmy Nil Fishhawk, is fantastic. I have a copy of it right in front of me. Especially good in it is the poem "Rant for Lovers", although "Gone" itself is also really good. They're all good.

I think that I put a little bit of prejudice against "Gone" and pick "Rant for Lovers" instead is because I've heard Mr. Jimmy, who I know, read "Gone" and so it's not as new to me as "Rant for Lovers".

Anyways, it's all good, and, for whatever it's worth, this book of poetry gets an enthusiastic endorsement by this website.

Jimmy has been doing poetry for a long, long time, and is very overdue in getting a book of his own published. It more than stands on it's own merits, it is outstanding. So, well, um, you know, I would not recommend a friend's book unless it had some merit. I'm sort of a bastard like that. But Jimmy's definitely does have what it takes to get an honest endorsement from this blog.

Bon Appetit.

Monday, March 22, 2004

A way in which Vietnam and Iraq are dissimilar

Although Vietnam and Iraq have many parallels there is one area where the parallels cease and a totally opposed meaning exists. It is in the area of vision and how vision is treated by both the people executing the war and its opponents.

In Vietnam the protesters were the ones who were asserting a different and new vision against the conservative and by that point traditional opinion of the administration regarding communism and the world order. In Iraq, on the contrary, the people who are opposing the war are the ones who want to conserve the world order which existed before 9/11 as much as possible, while the people who are executing the war are those who profess to have a new vision of the world.

But what a difference in those two competing notions of vision; on the one hand you have the idealism of the Vietnam protesters which wanted to see a world at peace with itself where there was no Cold War, on the other you have the paranoid rantings of the war hawks, whose vision of their new world order is a return to brutality, senseless war, senseless death, and imperialistic visions for all who can afford them.

It's a vision which would plunge the world into a chaos of world war so serious that in all likelihood the wars fought would become nuclear and the world would face a significant chance of being destroyed forever as a result of it.

This is what "Getting over the Vietnam Syndrome" in the minds of the Bush administration implies.

Let's hope that this vision of hell doesn't reach any sort of fruition and that the pre-9/11 world order survives, repairs itself, and continues to exert a stabilizing influence on potential world conflicts around the globe.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Non-western countries, socialism, and democracy.

This blog has sort of advocated several times the idea that non-western countries essentially shouldn't have anything to do with capitalism and the west as a whole and try instead to move towards some sort of socialist society cutting out the whole capitalist phase altogether.

All well and good, but the question presents itself: "What about democracy?" if we allow that democracy and capitalism grew up together at least, and are in some way connected, then the spectre of just not caring about the political decisions made by countries which are making a transition to some sort of socialism out of cultural tolerance and relativism is an extremely disturbing thought.

The solution, in my opinion, is that there are other standards than modern democracy to base opinions about political rightness and wrongness with regards to the actions of non-western countries.

Every country, people, political entity has it's own ideas about good government, or about harmoniously existing society, or about general rightness and justice, along with corresponding ideas about the opposing principles. I think that evaluating countries according to the fulfillment or absence of fulfillment of decisionmaking according to their own indigenous ways of viewing such things is a way of establishing some sort of moral tie to countries which, in rejecting capitalism, have also rejected western political ideas in their quest for social justice and self determination.

A commonwealth of nations based on these principles wouldn't be cowtowing to right wing forces by any means. The population of these countries would decide between right and left according to their own understandings of these terms, and the resulting process would ensure that outcomes reflected opinions, which naturally are not wholely either all right or all left.

If you believe in the possibility of a just standard between nations, this is probably the only way to pursue.

The system as we have it now is just a glorified neo-colonial one. We give countries prefabricated constitutions and political systems which they don't agree with and which their people don't even understand, then cultivate a small educated class who does and is willing to salute on command to the victorious west and the put them in power and call it a democratic government.

We need more than a world run by lackeys and thieves.
The occupation.

The occupation of France by the Germans has strange parallels with the conduct of the Bush regime and America since 9/11. I'll cite some text from the excellent book "Occupation: the ordeal of France" by Ian Ousby to show what I'm talking about.

Quoting the diaries of Andre Gide: "At times France seems so unfamiliar that one suspects one was mistaken about her in the first place. She seems to have set about renouncing her best and rarest qualities, her virtues, one after the other, or relinquishing them like useless luxury goods or like belongings which, in time of hardship, cost too much too look after. France now is no longer France."

(Ian Ousby)
"It takes a great deal to make the French ashamed of being French. Even the great defeat of 1940 had not quite managed to do that, however deep the crisis of national self-esteem and however loud the clamour of mutual recrimination it had provoked. But the years that followed did. They created a sense of disgrace more subtle yet far more disturbing than anything that had happened on the battlefield. It was at once national and personal. It reached into the minutiae of daily life, where people detected self-absorbtion, indifference to each other and small dishonesties grown habitual not just in their neighbors
or fellow passengers on the Metro but eventually in themselves as well." (136-137)


"

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Currently reading, among other things, Pre-Capitalist Economic Formations by Marx. Very good. Confirms what a lot of Left Marxists and Autonomists have been saying for quite a while.

One of the really good things in there is Marx basically saying that the reduction of man to simply "the worker" is a terrible thing, and that it's come at a terrible price, and implying that any future socialist society would replace the dignity that man has lost in becoming the worker in capitalist society as part of it's program, thereby eliminating the working class as a concept. Now, there are two things going on here: first is the great loss suffered by individuals who have become just 'workers', second is an awareness that the 'working class' isn't just a collection of these workers but is a place for resistance against the forcing of individuals to submit to being just a regular 'worker', another tool in the capitalist machine, just like a stamping press.

So while the idea of the 'worker' is something negative, the 'working class' as a whole is not. It functions as something very positive, and the triumph of socialism means, then, the elimination of workers and the suffusion of resistance-working class ideas over the whole of society as the new standard of culture and social orientation. The resistance culture should determine where society as a whole should go, which would imply it going off in a thousand different directions at once in the maximum pursuit of liberty, creativity, fulfillment, and autonomy.

So in a sense I oppose the idea of 'socialism' alone as a politics; I think the old political theorists had it somewhat right when they identified the important things which make us what we are as being the very particular aspects of life and experience which bind us together, combined with the sort of shared universals that experience, exploration, and life bring us to. Together, such things make a life; that which we have because that's what we're born into and that which we have because that's what we've determined for ourselves. The transition to socialism should enable us to become full actors in our society who base our identities on these things.

As society stands right now bourgeois capitalism denies man in the particular and asserts that only abstract, universal, man matters. There are only workers and bosses. That's how things break down, and that's what's the most important power dynamic in capitalist society today. But it shouldn't be. Once the beast is overthrown by the working class (drawing on the resistance culture of the working class),
man in full, breathing, living, capacity will make his appearance on the scene once again.

A limited amount of this freedom is available to individuals right now who decide to detach themselves from the system as it exists, even though this is not essentially a winning strategy all by itself.

Roger Shattuck's book "Forbidden Knowledge" contains the interesting statement that there's present in modern culture a sense of a Faustian death trip, where people pursue total and complete liberation even though there's the undercurrent of sensation which points to the scenario that the moment of total liberation for an individual would also be that of total destruction.

Shattuck knows what he's talking about; he wrote "The Banquet Years", about the French Avant-Garde in the pre-WWI days, and has extensively translated Apollinaire's writings.

It's interesting to contemplate.
It's quite a difference being given respect and recognition for work you do and being treated as not being even worthy of spitting on while living in a slum and pushing the limits of what's possible to get by on eating, although I never actually had any problem with money for food.

I remember nights and nights where I'd get to sleep by means of my surest method: sugar overdose. I'm mildly diabetic, I suppose, and, for other health reasons, can't drink, so to end consciousness for the night I'd used to drink soft drinks until I could feel the diabetes attacking my eyeballs and literally feel weak and lose consciousness.
Not a very good thing to do, not healthy at all, but some nights you just couldn't tolerate being conscious any more.

That doesn't happen anymore, and I'm sure that my pancreas thanks me for it.

So what I difference someone actually giving a damn and giving one the basic recognition that one deserves in society makes.

A disquisition about mental health.
Or just a few comments.

Being in the Pacific Northwest for several months has done wonders for my mental and physical health, to an extent that I wasn't even aware would be neccesary or possible before I came here.

Let me explain.

What I've found is that the best way to slowly drive a person crazy and totally disconnect them from reality is to stymie every urge for the free expression of their self in society. No matter how strong a person is, after a while the mind starts to cannibalize itself in an attempt to escape from the situation and get meaning in it's life.

The surest way to avoid that is to give people liberty to live the way they want and the power to exercise their freedom without excessive consequences attached to mildly trangressive action.

I'm not saying that I was going crazy back home, but I, a child of the Great Lakes Region, was living in the South, which was quite inhospitable, and instead of trying to live life in a natural way there, which was impossible for me, I started to withdraw further and further into my personal search for truth. This led, I believe, both to interesting discoveries and to a sort of detachment from reality which, if it wasn't checked by coming out here where things were more congenial, would have eventually led to some sort of pathology.

As it stands things are better and I can instead reflect on what I've learned and work within the confines of normal society now.

A disquisition about mental health.
Or just a few comments.

Being in the Pacific Northwest for several months has done wonders for my mental and physical health, to an extent that I wasn't even aware would be neccesary or possible before I came here.

Let me explain.

What I've found is that the best way to slowly drive a person crazy and totally disconnect them from reality is to stymie every urge for the free expression of their self in society. No matter how strong a person is, after a while the mind starts to cannibalize itself in an attempt to escape from the situation and get meaning in it's life.

The surest way to avoid that is to give people liberty to live the way they want and the power to exercise their freedom without excessive consequences attached to mildly trangressive action.

I'm not saying that I was going crazy back home, but I, a child of the Great Lakes Region, was living in the South, which was quite inhospitable, and instead of trying to live life in a natural way there, which was impossible for me, I started to withdraw further and further into my personal search for truth. This led, I believe, both to interesting discoveries and to a sort of detachment from reality which, if it wasn't checked by coming out here where things were more congenial, would have eventually led to some sort of pathology.

As it stands things are better and I can instead reflect on what I've learned and work within the confines of normal society now.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Rachel Corrie, one year after your death, we still remember you and your cause.

Monday, March 15, 2004

I have to qualify myself---all of that is a contribution to the solution of our social problems, but it's not the solution in it's totality.
I've been getting a kick out of Christopher Isherwood's book "Lions and Shadows".

Let me quotw a few passages from it that just floored me when I read them.

This is about boys in an English public school:

"Another library author was Chalmers. But Chalmers wrote poetry and, unlike Linsley, never showed his work to the public; unless, as sometimes happened, it was published in the school magazine. He had recently won the school poetry prize on the set subject: "The Surrender of the German Fleet at Scapa Flow." Chalmers' poem began: "The Prussians watched the sombre winter sea" This was it's first and last reference, throughout, to anything German: as for the fleet itself, it was never mentioned at all. Chalmers filled the remainder of his six Spencerian stanzas with his favorite properties: wan blood-red mists, meaningless cries of invisible sea birds and the inaudible moanings of the drowned. But his entry was so unquestionably the best that it got the prize, nevertheless; despite the suspicion that it was merely one more expression of the author's limitless quiet contempt for the authorities and all their works."

I've done that before! In fact, that was what basically allowed me to complete highschool. Every fucking paper was a joke and a jab, but I got the diploma from the right school nevertheles.

Herr Issywoo, as he's referred to by his landlady in "Mr. Norris Changes Trains" is the author of the stories about decadent Berlin nightlife in the Weimar era which Cabaret was based off of.

What's also good...oh, I have to absolutely recommend the "St. Petersberg Dialogues" (on the relation of Providence to contemporary government) by Josephe de Maistre as being exemplary exercises of literary style. I don't quite agree with his social philosophy, but the style in which it's presented, and the deftness of his arguments are reason enough alone to track down a copy.

More on the Maya, Aztecs, and Mestizo America---our destiny in a way---later.
Or should I say they are enagaged in the most authentically American political work that could be
Mexico as the Spiritual heart of North America.

Due to contact with real Native American culture recently, I've had to revise my ideas about what the state of America as it is is. Specifically, what I've found out, or realized, since it was always in front of me, is that there isn't any real cultural difference between the indians of Mexico and South America, like the Maya, and North American indians. They are roughly the same people, and have more in common with each other than they do with European culture in any way.

Which has some implications for people who want to search for a just solution for the cultural and social problem that attends the New World: that we were born of a colonial system and have the traces of the colonial system in our culture to this day.

Mexico emerges, then, as being the most representative of how America really is----native and colonial viewpoints both being considered in this analysis. The social philosophy and outlook of the Aztecs and the Maya can be seen as being representative of the sort of social philosophy which Europeans in the States and in Canada will have to somewhat adopt, and reconcile themselves with, in order for the American nations to be truly American and for them to come to a sort of reconciliation with their past.

So Mexico, the Mestizo state, which is shaped on the surface by European culture but which is directed from the bottom up by the indigenous viewpoint of the majority of it's people, is more truly American than America.

It's an example of what America should become. America should become another Mexico, and I'm fully willing to cooperate with and support this process.

This is why Mexico is the spiritual heart of North America. The Mexican socialists who reconcile their beliefs with beliefs in the Aztec gods are the most authentic Americans that there are.

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Damn. Wil Wheaton's so nice. I'm not. But I still link to his site.
I've added a link to Wil Wheaton.net. I got into this blogging business because of Tom Tomorrow's site, and he got into it because of Wil Wheaton's site, so....it's only fair to link back to him.
Can't hide it, won't deny it, cause I'm addicted to drugs and I'm a slave to the dark beat.

***on edit, people have been searching for this club beat. I first heard it in a club in Gainesville Florida, the University Club which, despite its name, is the only gay dance club in town. I later heard it on a CD titled "Revelation: the S&M Party", which is from a recording at a club in New York City...which the magic of the internet has just told me is "The Sound Factory". Never been there, just got the CD.

If you're looking for a copy of the song, which I think is part of a DJ LP or CD, then "Revelation" is a good way to find it.

5/31/07

Friday, March 12, 2004

I think I've found true love. That and trying to get an edumacation after all these years has kept me from blogging for the last couple days.

A good book to read if you want to find out how hipster modernism can give way to romantic ecstacy is "Homo Sapiens" by Stanislaw Przybyszewski.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Just added the Lords of Acid official site (I'm sure the fan site isn't that hard to get to) to the links section.

Shit, if you want to hear real techno, the real stuff, how it sounded before all these sellouts and commercial hucksters took over, get ye over to the record store and listen to a Lords of Acid CD.

I just rediscovered them; I knew that they had composed the 'Injected with a poison' single, even though I didn't at the time remember it's name, but, yo, I haven't bought a serious techno album in almost ten years because it's been impossible to find one that really sounds like it is. The Stript edition of Voodoo-U is a welcome addition to my CD library.

It's better than wasting your money on a group that samples and/or tries to immitate video game music on their songs......shit, it's about partying, drugs, and liberation, not about jacking off in your suburban home to some fucking role playing game.

Not that I do drugs anymore, really, but I'm still into partying when I can find the right people, or, when hell periodically freezes over and there's actually a show out there that's worth anything. and I still believe in liberation of course.

Again, the Nazis.

The book "Zionism in the age of the Dictators" by Leni Brenner is good.
Brenner is an ex-Trotskyist/Grenwich Village Bohemian who became a historian.

It prompts one to ask again, since I've probably already asked it on this blog: what happened in Nazi Germany between the seizure of power in 1933 and Kristallnacht in 1938, when the Jews started to be killed because they were Jews and for no other reason?

You have five years in there of political maneovreing during which time one can see laws and developments which have obvious parallels in the United States, both in the sentiments expressed by the rhetoric and, looking both at the history of the U.S. as well as current events, with the actions of the U.S. government and it's supporting citizens.

But the conservatives don't want us to look at that time! Of course not, you know, don't look at the man behind the curtain only look at the final result of the Nazi seizure of power.

It's real conveniant if you're a conservative to take the paradigmatic phase of Nazi Germany to be 1944 rather than 1936, it eliminates a whole lot of uncomfortable questions.

Oh, and I'm making up a profile of the typical porn spam message sender.

You see, there are these spam senders who work for porn sites who, in their obvious tedium, find e-mail addresses for sites that they don't like and send out messages with snarky return addresses.

I don't know, what would a simple profile be: stupid, white, male...what else, oh I don't know. You know the funniest thing is that they always respond with the snarky message after I've posted something they don't like, and they respond to the wrong things.

When I post something intellectual which may have a really insulting meaning for conservatives it goes right over their head and they don't say anything. When I post something more obvious, like the thing about supporting gay marriage, they respond.

So, based on which things they respond to and which things pass over their heads I can compile a profile of them based on the pattern of their stupidity.

I don't know, maybe I should limit the number of syllables I use in my writing to make it more accesable to them, so that more people can join in the fun of this site.

Thursday, March 04, 2004

Which leads us back, paradoxically, to Interzone, the creation of William S. Burroughs. Burroughs knew a thing or two.
Pierre Clastres.

I've discovered Pierre Clastres' work in anthropology and am impressed. He authored a collection of essays entitled "Society against the State", among other publications.

What makes Clastres' work different from that of other radical anthropologists is that Clastres, on top of having extensive field work, attacks the problem of what positive characteristics do societies which exist without the sorts of hierarchies which typify modern society posess.

It's all well and good to talk about the emergence of the State, of the emergence of capitalism and economics as the emergence of a sort of Leviathan which started with authoritarian control of resources, but the question of what the societies who did not fall into that mold believed and how they viewed the world is not answered by the negative pronouncements about what they do not have.

Native Americans are a good example of this. It's perfectly fine to go on about the freedom that Native American societies possesed prior to contact with Europeans, but that doesn't touch on the fact that these societies possesed certain religious and philosophical beliefs, certain ways of viewing the world, which are not as easily assimilated and understood as the general idea of these societies possessing freedom is.

And to be honest, if we're sincere in wanting to reconcile a critique of our own culture with the actual existence of more libertarian cultures, we have to examine the belief systems of them and try to find parallels with our own belief systems and ways of viewing the world. Anything else is cultural appropriation and the distortion of another culture for our own purposes.

Clastres is attempting this. It's not a simple thing to do, and it's not an easy road to follow, but it's neccesary if we want to make good on our claims to being interested in liberation.

So, ironically, with Clastres we cross the boundary from post-modernism to magical realism in thought and anthropology, or maybe neo-romanticism, who knows....

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Wow, ain't that America.

Ancestry.com has this really interesting little feature by which you can enter the last name of a relative and it'll give you all the census data in which that relative's name shows up.

Enticed by the siren song of geneaology I got a free trial to it, and I looked up the name of my paternal grandmother, who was Italian.

Looking at the returns for her last name on the 1920 census yielded some startling results. You see, although I'm sure that many of these people were not in fact related to me, when it returned results from below the Mason-Dixon line, all the people who bore my grandmother's last name were labeled "Colored", even though they were all from Italy.

Being labeled "Colored" in the South in the 1920s was not a flippant matter.

So here's another round to America for it's wonderful tradition of tolerance.
Gay Marriage.

I've heard that Portland is now giving out marriage licenses to same sex couples; I hope intensely that Seattle starts doing the same thing.

I, ahem, am bisexual, not gay, not straight, but bisexual, and if that were to happen I'd be tempted to find some guy and do it just to prove that I could. It would be a little taste of justice in an unjust world.

It's hard to describe what I think marriage means to people who aren't straight. We live in a conservative culture which really doesn't approve of people living together while not being married, or living together on a long term basis as opposed to just living together as a preface to marriage. Marriage is the way in which a legitimate relationship is expressed in this country; to deny marriage rights to gays is to condemn them to a shadow world where they occupy a basement floor beneath the already shaky world of straight couples who live together without being married.

Saying that I can get married to a man is basicly saying "Fuck You" to an establishment which will always deny equal rights to gays as long as they aren't permitted to have the same landmarks in life as straight people.

So, congratulations San Francisco, congratulations Portland, if I were with you I'd give you a sloppy, open mouthed kiss in celebration of what you've done.
Shils all.

I have a question, or maybe it's a modest proposal (meant without irony): why is it that American journalistic standards have fallen so low that by now even the people criticizing journalism are just repeating a slightly less tired set of ideas than the main offenders?

When will we return to some honesty in this country?

The only thing separating the left from the center is it's honesty, and if we content ourselves with only being marginally more straightforward than those who contend that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had anal sex together than there's really no point in engaging in journalism anymore, is there.

But the opportunities for selling out have become so great lately that some people have taken the bait.

The crime of going with the crowd when you can get away with it, even if you know what you're saying is wrong, is surely one which a level of hell in Dante's Inferno is reserved for.

All I have to say is that if you're on the left and you decide to tailor your message to be marginally better than the right and decide to go with the crowd on everything else, the fucking terrorists have already won.