Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Update

The subtitle to Jonah Godlberg's book is "The totalitarian temptation from Mussolini to Hillary Clinton", which says to me that he's largely working off of Jean François Revel's screed "The Totalitarian Temptation". If that's any indication of the level of this book then it'll be right up there with the Hillary Clinton conspiracy books published by Regnery, since Revel's book owes about nothing to actual theory of totalitarian societies and what makes them but instead is basically an extended session of Revel venting his hatred of Communism, leftist socialism in general, and the French Communist Party. It's worthless as an argument and worthless as a source for these issues.

Holy Fucking Shit: "Liberal Fascism" by Jonah Goldberg

I saw a picture of the cover on TBogg, but I thought that it must have been photoshopped. Must have been. No one could be stupid enough to actually put out a book like that, with the subtitle of "From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton".

But the fucking thing is real.

Ok.

Maybe he doesn't realize that Mussolini was a leftwinger who turned on his comrades over support for World War I, began pushing an ultra-patriotic and nationalistic line, denouncing "internationalist communists", which lead to the murders of Communist Party activists by his "Squadristas", i.e. the Fascist proto-type of the Brown Shirts.

I don't think that qualifies Mussolini as a leftist.

"Pantload media"

I'm no fan of David Horowitz, but for some reason I must have missed the point of constant, gratuitous, scatalogical humor in a post.

This is everything that blogs are not supposed to be, i.e. something which sounds like your little brother wrote it when he was twelve.

Chris Matthews

Quite honestly I don't know why people get so upset over this stuff. The mainstream media has always been the mainstream media and that media has always kissed up to power---and it always will. The only hope is whether it does so a great humoungous amount or just a great amount.

Chris Matthews shifting to the right doesn't surprise me. He always struck me as a chatty inside the beltway-er who wanted to prove his insider-ness by going with the flow. And the flow has lead further and further to the right.

It's about structural influences, folks, not personalities.

**edit

Yes, homophobic comments are wrong and shouldn't be on the air. I was talking about the other stuff that Chris Matthews has talked about lately.

Chuck Colson says that Faith is the key to a good marriage

I actually had the pleasure of listening to Mr. Colson while going across South Dakota this September so I know what his tact is.

There are two things going on here, but the second thing makes the first thing less funny, or vicious, so I'll save it.

My impression with all of this Christian living stuff, and it's pretty severe, is that people who feel that they have to surround all aspects of their lives with Christian culture are sort of weak individuals who can't direct their lives on their own but need it spoon fed to them in order to be stable.

I mean, not even most *Christians* feel that you have to do this, but there exists a seeming minority which is perpetually afraid that without god emanating from every pore of their being they'll go astray and do bad things.

The second point is this: Colson is probably better read and more sophisticated in his theological opinions than 99.9% of the people who would be reading his columns sympathetically, which I can't square with him leading people on as if he believes in popular Christian fundamentalism. I don't think he's even a fundamentalist.

This seems like the thing that people revolted against the Lutherans following Barth for: that his notion of Kerygma was such an attenuated theological concept that Lutheran ministers were one step away from being atheists. Barth made a point of limiting the claims of things like miracles and such, even beyond what it was before him, because his great fear was that if you allow supernatural things into religion then you're potentially one step away from going the way the Lutheran Church went during the Third Reich.

Whatever.

I'm not above making comparisons to that period when it's justified, which in fairness is not all that often (if you're looking for a model for today you'd be better off looking at Mussolini's Italy), but this just strikes me as silly. I've never understood this, especially since, if I understand correctly, he was arguing against liberal theologians as well as conservative ones.

Haha

From Pandagon:

"A lot of the impetus for this is the impending Alito confirmation, I’d think. The Republican base isn’t as anti-woman as reading the right wing media would have you believe. And even your workaday sexist pig isn’t likely to go so far as to think that women shouldn’t be controlling their fertility, since the benefits of that right extend far beyond just the empowerment of women."

Well said.

Amsterdam for bloggers

Via the Dutch tourism board.

Been reading Pandagon, they seem like fairly hip liberal type people.

Anyways, Amanda Marcotte says first person to make a reefer joke gets dubbed dweeb of the year.

Which is why I say that if I was going to Amsterdam I'd check out the Rijksmuseum and the diamond cutting factories.

Just a quick comment

Interesting.

Yesterday was the Chinese new year, ushering in the reign of the male fire dog.

I couldn't help but notice something. According to Chinese astrology I have a deficit of the fire element in my chart, meaning that having the year be fire means good luck for me.

Now, about two and a half years ago I started undergoing weekly acupuncture treatments, which lasted for about three months. One of the comments that my acupuncturist made, after doing the traditional diagnosis (which involves taking the pulse at different points on the body), was that I had a deficit in the fire element. He was making this diagnosis not from astrology but from examining me and correlating pulses with meridians.

Coincidence?

Maybe, but personally, I doubt it.

Decided to play the old "Shuffle your music collection" game.

Make of it what you will.

Trans-National by Laibach
Cold Irons Bound (new version) from the "Masked and Anonymous" soundtrack by Dylan
The Swan by Camille Saint-Saens
A Ward Churchill speech
Beethoven's Violin Concerto
Boots, by K.M.F.D.M.
I'm waiting for the man by the Velvet Underground
Blues de Toc Toc by Waylon Thibodeaux
Symphony #3, Maestoso, by Camille Saint-Saens
Love's Gonna Getcha by KRS-One
Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 3, Op 108 by Johannes Brahms
Verlier nich den Kopf by D.A.F.
Adagio by Johannes Brahms

Local, Meso, and Macro

For various reasons I've been paying much closer attention to the World Social Forum than I had been in recent years. It's an ultimately heartening experience because reviewing the organizations presenting and the workshops themselves makes it clear that outside the borders of the U.S. the global justice movement still exists. We might have gone crazy here but the rest of the world is still fighting for justice in the way it was before 9/11.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

You can divide up the political world into three levels, the local level, the meso level, and the macro level. The local level is local and state politics, the Meso level is nation-state politics, the macro is global politics.

What I think has been happening in the past few years has been a redirection of resources by U.S. activists to the meso level, because of our expansionist foreign policy, at the expense of keeping an eye on things on the macro level. I think that we've tended to overinflate the importance of the meso because we're so much in the belly of the beast. But no matter how bad the Bush administration is, barring catastrophe, there still exists a global politics which should have our attention.

The only way this would not in fact exist would be if the Bush administration's unilateralism lead to a complete unraveling of the global status quo, with all the countries and blocs of the world deciding to pursue individualistic objectives without regard to the international system as it's established. This has not happened yet. Russia, China, and Iran, among others, have been making overtures to one another as part of a new historical bloc, but so far this appears to have been only done in response to the U.S. Maybe if the U.S. stops doing what it's doing these countries will have looser connections with each other.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Jean Cocteau once wrote that

The secret to life was winding up the mechanism of the mind and then slowly letting it go out again, but that the trick was to know when to stop winding.

What he meant by this was simple: in the first stage a person acquires knowledge, acquires diverse experiences, in general brings the coil of ones mind up to a very taught state; in the second the pressure is reduced and instead the person slowly but surely unfolds unique creative work based on the things that prior to the point have been wound up; this is the unwinding.

It's very alchemical, i.e. the first stage is one of isolation from society in general while the second stage involves reintegration into society.

I've found that this is indeed true. I see it in my own life.

I was born and lived most of my life in Michigan. Then, a little over six years ago, I moved to Florida, which was like the ultimate elsewhere compared to where I was from. I soon dropped out of society and, not pursuing either school or career, had a lot of free time with which to think, to read, to explore, in general to wind myself up through the pursuit of knowledge and some experience, experience which was in a way indirect since this wasn't real life but a simulation of sorts.

Then, when I was ready to get back to the real world, to the world which everyone else inhabits, I moved out here, to Washington, and started taking some classes, hoping to complete that degree that I'd started working on some years before.

For the first two years I felt like I was constantly running, that trying to keep up with being back in society and pursuing real classes again was enough of a challenge. There was only a six week period in there where I was back in Florida, if you don't count a weekend where I attended a friend's wedding. Now that I've been here for two years and the immediate pressing urge of survival has dimmed a little bit I find that I'm letting my old interests, the things that I first explored in Florida, wind themselves out into my life.

This has caused some misunderstanding by people who only saw me in the capacity of how I was fervently trying to get by in Washington and who didn't see the years before when I was exploring all manner of interests and subjects. They only saw one side of me and, not knowing any better, coudln't square the rest with what they knew; but the point was that this, what's happening now, was always where I was going towards, while that was just transitional, not the other way around.

Ah well, life is of one piece, and you can't fault these comrades for only seeing a single phase of the greater process at work.

I look at the world, specifically my life, keeping in mind an idea from Henri Bergson, who defined a moment as something which could last a second or could last a series of years, the difference being what it needed to bring itself to completion. The key is to remember that all things eventually pass and that what looks like spinning in place may give rise to a breakthrough after a certain amount of time, the important thing being to keep with the process and see it through, instead of getting stuck in the middle.

Complete that moment.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Update:correction of link

Corrected the bottom link on the previous post. That wasn't the link I was hoping for. The one which is now on the bottom is, it's to a page entitled "The OTO: Song of the Whitewash"

This probably isn't the right venue for this, but oh well...

There probably aren't any good places. I haven't published anything like this on sites which are devoted to these things.

Once upon a time there was a man named Aleister Crowley, who was an occultist and general self-consciously decadent figure. Crowley, who had been associated with a ritual magick group called "The Golden Dawn", became associated with a Freemasonic fellowship called the Order of Oriental Templars, or the Order of the Templars of the East, usually abbreviated O.T.O. The OTO combined Freemasonry with eastern mysticism and practices.

Crowley eventually became head of this order.

Then, Crowley died.

After his death a few claimants emerged for the status of head of the OTO.

One of them was Grady McMurty, of California, another was Kenneth Grant, of England.

Now, the McMurty OTO has sued all other OTOs, and won in these cases, over claims that they were the original OTO, so, not wanting to be sued myself, I'm not going to make this claim, although you can see an objective evaluation of these things, which no doubt causes the U.S. OTO extreme discomfort on P.R. Koenig's site. Koenig lives in Switzerland, so is beyond the range of litigation.

I should say also that McMurty's OTO is the one which is present in the United States while Grant's OTO is now largely based in the U.K.

Anyways, my own personal experience with these matters is interesting in that a while ago I became interested in Crowley, read a lot, then gave it up because of the abysmal social philosophy that people promoting Crowley, and Crowley himself to a degree, were promoting in the U.S., which is a very regressive form of right wing libertarianism which basically says an elite is entitled to do whatever it wants while people who aren't qualified to be in the elite should serve the elite. Not good.

But, as these things sometimes go, through a very laborious process I happened upon the work of Kenneth Grant. The regressive social philosophy is largely absent in Grant's books, and, what's more, there's something else which is present, something which this post is really about....

Namely, that 'thing' is an actual sophisticated understanding of mysticism, something beyond the level of mail order mystic religion, which is largely where the people and authors associated with the U.S. OTO are located.

If one can judge how authentic a group claiming to have wisdom and understanding is by...how much wisdom and understanding they actually have...then the U.S. OTO, in my opinion, fails miserably to come up with anything which is in any way a significant advance over what we already have. Moreover, when compared to Grant's work, the U.S. OTO appears to not even understand the writings of Crowley himself, which they have copyright to and which they make money off of.

Grant will effortlessly go through different symbolism and make good, illuminated connections, while the U.S. OTO writers will grope and try to come up with some sort of understanding of connections but never in fact do it.

There is, in my opinion, more insight in Grant's "The Magical Revival" than there is in the many OTO author associated books.

But, of course, the U.S. OTO is the authentic one, how could I possibly have thought otherwise?

Here is the Peter Koenig file on the U.S. OTO

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Yay!! Gay rights bill passes in Olympia, Washington (state capitol)

Proving that the whole country hasn't gone insane, Washington state has finally introduced law prohibiting the discrimination of gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender people in the state.

I read that the battle has been going on for about 30 years.

I like the quotes from the one Republican who defected from his party in the Senate and voted for the bill: he said that people can't choose who their hearts love and so the rights of gays and lesbians should be respected.

Amen to that.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Bill Burroughs effect, with many apologies to Burroughs

In a way a lot of these drug stories seem to take their cue from Burroughs, who wove in addiction to his stories extensively, but after a lot of thinking about it, I'm a huge Burroughs fan and, although the hard drug phase of my drug problems was pretty short, did have a drug problem in general myself...wow, too many clauses.

Ok, after thinking it through a lot I think that the Burroughs was essentially a writer who was also a junky at different periods of his life rather than a junky who happened to be a writer. I think that Burroughs succeeds with this because he was already preparing to be a brilliant writer before he became addicted to opiates, which in fact happened quite accidentally, although the biographies and such downplay it. He was fencing stolen goods when he got his hands on a bunch of morphine packets, I'm not sure if they were disposable syringes of morphine or what have you, but, despite being warned about the consequences of using the stuff by a criminal acquiantance, he started, and became hooked. But the artistic elements in Burroughs' work are plain to see for anyone who wants to--his work is a disorienting miasma of magical realistic elements which seek to augment the story and explain what he wants to explain in a better and more direct way.

The heroin is an experience which happened to Burroughs, a fantastically creative artistic writer,I'm saying. Burroughs was not a man who happened on heroin, which there upon defined his life.

Final vindication for a post-modern age and reflections

Rob Spillman article on Oprah, James Frey, Nasdijj, and JT LeRoy. Had to check up on the JT LeRoy bit, wasn't familiar with him/her, whatever.

I can only wonder if this is the final apotheosis of commercialism and marketing: an age which has grown so superficial, where the arbiters of culture are so insanely concerned with image and so little concerned with substance, that actual fiction is believed as being reality, and is marketed as such.

I have an investment in all of this, in the sort of outsider genre, the thing being that I really experienced some out sider stuff. And it really, really, sucked. So in a way the James Frey, JT LeRoy people are trivializing this.

But anyways, I'm not interested in setting myself up in their place as being a tell all person.

I will say this, as an observation, though: people should have known that the world that JT claimed to be inhabiting, and the world which James Frey, to a lesser extent, claimed to be part of, don't lend themselves to writing or abstract thought.

People who are involved with crime and/or drugs aren't budding artists just waiting to be discovered; they're concerned with crime and drugs.

If, in fact, they get around to being authors my guess is that the transition period from one to the other is long and hard, not something which is effected virtually overnight, probably something which takes place over a series of years.

While it might be nice to think that this is the way the world works it simply isn't. One of the reasons for that is, to put it bluntly, these are social problems which are reinforced by the hermetically sealed nature of the social world involved. Which is one reason why accounts of all of this aren't common and why when accounts come forward maybe they have special attraction. Most people continue to be criminals, go to jail, reform themsleves or not reform themselves, and either way get on with their lives, not necessarily feeling that something important has happened to them which is significant enough to write about.

Drug users either stop using drugs or continue to use drugs and either way don't necessarily think "Oh, I should write a memoir about my time being a drug user".

But, on the other side, while in some ways the stories of hard, hardcore addiction might be hard to get at because of the social setting, to say nothing of the criminal world, in another way they really aren't.

I find the stories of alcoholism, which because of the legal nature of it don't seem to be so lurid in their descriptions, as being more to truth about what happens to people than the exotica relating specifically to hard drugs; more to the point, I'd venture anything to say that people's hard drug problems and their recovery probably have more in common with people's descent into alcoholism and recovery than not, which is virtually heresy if you think that the seriousness of these drugs alone makes the effects of addiction qualitatively different from alcoholism.

Say what you want about AA and related therapies, the portrayal of life in "Clean and Sober", the movie, is probably closer to representing the reality of addiction than quite a lot of other things out there.

And--I want to bring this back to alcoholism for a reason--it shows what might be the most telling obstacle in the way of the production of memoirs regarding drug addiction and hard times (brace yourself): while the stories might be extremely important and chronicle extremely bad self destruction on the part of the user, from the outside the view is often more banal than anything else.

While people who do these things might hurt themselves and others that's no guarantee that it's going to be interesting. Sad, yes, but interesting in the way of chronicling all these crazy things, probably not.

Which goes to the heart of the matter---there's more addiction and self destruction going on right now, all around us, than there is happening in a picturesque way in really cool scenery across the U.S.

And people fight against and recover from addictions right here, in this world, not necessarily in some la la land in another place.

You know what I'd like to see...

A filibuster where they read the collected works of Karl Marx into the Congressional Record. That would be fun.

Hamas

The elections in Palestine aren't surprising.

Sure, it was a surprise that Hamas actually won all these seats but, thinking about it retrospectively, it really isn't all that much of a shock.

I see the victory of Hamas as being less about actual support for Hamas and more a response to the brutality of the Israeli occupation.

Fatah is perceived as being reformist and soft, Hamas, which shoots people and is involved with suicide bombing, is perceived as being strong and uncompromising.

All I'm saying is that if democracy is something which measures popular sentiment, if the Israelis wanted something less than Hamas to legitimately win these elections the state of Israel and the Israeli army should have been less brutal in their dealings with the Palestinians.
You harvest what you sow, essentially, and in this case the harvest of a violent party getting popular support was produced by the sowing of violence and racism and exclusion, colonization, committed against the Palestinians for a very long period of time.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Chris Matthews....

Funny animated ad published on AmericaBlog today:



Is it me or does it look like Chris Matthews has been crossed with Christine Gregoire, our fearless pro-corporate governor, who happens to be a democrat?

One thing about the French and the Francophones....

When they're left wing they're really left wing and when they're right wing they're really righwing.

Witness the Quebecois shock jock who has become Canada's only independent member of Parliament. Seeing the passing reference to an independent MP I was hoping for a Canadian Bernie Sanders, but oh well...

Choice quotes: "He once said that African students at Laval University were the children of dictators and cannibals. That remark was one reason why the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decided to strip Quebec City radio station CHOI-FM of its licence in 2004."

Edited out the section on Z-net from the FAQs

I've lately warmed to Z-net, and the gratuitous trashing of them is sort of not necessary.

Dirty little secrets

Interesting article about the apparently fake native american author "Nasdijj" from the LA Times.

The pattern seems familiar: person who is praised for writing an outsider account of their life is revealed to be a fraud, this time with both his ethnicity as well as his basic experience. The guy has written several books claiming to be from a Navajo perspective and apparently was not only not Navajo at all but had in fact had a previous incarnation as a gay S/M writer.

The thing that the article underlines for me is that, despite multi-culturalism, despite essays on tolerance, the publishing world and other elite sectors of American society, like academia, are still ultimately driven by white interest, and not just any white interest but the type of cultural beliefs which characterize the whitest of them all, like people from the Northeast or non-ethnic whites from the East Coast.

That's the only way to explain why patently false novels like this guy's could be published, consumed, awarded, liked, in this day and age.

In some places it seems like there's a dual power structure: formally, we're all multicultural and tolerant, informally, the people who have dominated American culture since the beginning of the country still do and if you go against them for too long you feel the consequences.
It's much easier to fake being a native American writer, or to fake being a writer representing any group which isn't dominant, while fundamentally coming at things from the perspective of the dominant culture than it is to really be a writer from these cultures and to get your work noticed and appreciated from an often indifferent and ignorant regime dominated , if you will, by members of the dominant culture.

There's that essential difference there between adopting multiculturalism as an interesting policy which you decide might be a good thing to implement programmatically and actually implementing it in a real way which gives the members of the cultures which you have decided to include a say in things, to give them ownership over publishing their own words.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

A disturbing thing about Ward Churchill

And I wouldn't have said this except that I've seen him speak in the flesh now, is that there's a lot in his writing and in his general attitude which is only tolerated because he claims native american heritage. Churchill likes to look at liberals and the left and upbraid them for whatever failing in ways which, if he wasn't claiming to be a native american, would probably be called racist or a number of other things.

Yes, this blog hasn't been pristine in its conduct regarding criticisms of the left which, because I'm not in fact a member of minority groups, sometimes border on legitimacy, but I'd like to think that I try, hopefully succesfully most of the time, to keep them under control and to keep them within bounds. This has not always been the case and I'm sorry for when that has happened.

Just because a person can make a criticism, the fact that the person making it comes from a privileged group is sometimes enough to undermine the efficacy of the criticism.

A lot of things that Churchill says in passing regarding the conduct of the left and liberals are predicated on the notion that since he's a native american he's in touch with a more real sense of the oppressiveness of America and therefore can make those critiques against the people he talks about. However, if he really isn't, then a lot of the pass that he's given for certain things evaporates.

Selective prosecution

No doubt Saddam deserves to be prosecuted, but, as mentioned before, it's a little hypocritical to prosecute the crimes of a person who *happens* to rule a country on top of a bunch of oil while people in the Indonesian military and elsewhere go free.

And if that seems like leftist equivocation, let's look for a second at the results of another very publicized prosecution of the bad people, and the lesser known truth of what happened afterwards: Nuremburg.

The Nuremburg tribunal made great progress with the notion of universal human rights which adhered no matter if a country had or had not participated in a treaty which had explicitly ratified them. Bad guys were captured, tried, and sentenced, some to death, some to prison sentences.

But what's less known and, if known, not emphasized, is that once the trials were over, victory declared, and the cold war started, the denazification programs were ended, and nazis were rehabilitated and allowed to participate in public life in Germany again, all in the interests of restarting the German economy so it could take on the East. Of course, the Nazi party and symbols were banned, but respectable ex-Nazis joined the Christian Democrats, or, if they were more enterprising, one of the smaller parties which were later banned as being covert attempts to resurrect the Nazi party.

Nurmeburg and "Justice at Nuremburg" has become an iconic event demonstrating American righteousness and the good intentions of the United States in the "Good War". There's even been a movie with Alec Baldwin made about it.

But even there, in this good moment, the usual suspects of national self-interest and ambitions for global influence entered the picture once the cameras were turned off and people weren't paying as much attention. Justified in the name of geopolitics it was.

Let's put it this way: if Nuremburg itself was undermined why is there any reason to believe that Saddam Hussein's trial is anything other than a cheap attempt to give legitimacy to the U.S. occupation following a war which almost no justification at all, certainly no where near the justification that World War II had.

What's my dangerous idea?

There have been these annoying little adds on news websites and blogs lately about promoting your "Dangerous Idea", some contest, which takes its name from "Darwin's Dangerous Idea", which Dennett wrote, right?

From the Boing Boing website, home to sexually immature nerds everywhere:

"The history of science is replete with discoveries that were considered socially, morally, or emotionally dangerous in their time; the Copernican and Darwinian revolutions are the most obvious. What is your dangerous idea? An idea you think about (not necessarily one you originated) that is dangerous not because it is assumed to be false, but because it might be true?"

So let's see, what's my dangerous idea?

I like dangerous ideas to be truly dangerous, so let's say my dangerous idea is that the U.S. government should be overthrown by means of extreme, violent, force. And that this would be a good thing.

Just kidding.

The U.S. government should be overthrown and a socialist republic established, but I don't know about the whole violent force idea.

"From folk to fake" via the Stranger

"The concept of authenticity in music goes back as far as musicologist Alan Lomax and the Smithsonian Folkways field recordings, according to Wald. “The perfect example for Lomax is Leadbelly and Josh White. Lomax used [White’s popularity] to bring in an audience for Leadbelly, but he felt that Leadbelly was the real thing and Josh wasn’t. Not that Josh wasn’t a real blues singer, but Lomax thought he was more vitiated by show biz.”"

The article, by Chris Parker, argues against putting too much faith in the importance of authenticity.

"“I grew up with singer/songwriters who were being ‘original,’ by which they meant they wrote songs like Joni Mitchell,” says Elijah Wald, author of books on blues artists Robert Johnson and Josh White. “What they meant by ‘original’ was they had written the lyrics. To me they were breathtakingly unoriginal. But they had indeed written their own lyrics.”"

I could add two examples of seeming authenticity which turned out to not be, one which isn't commonly known and one which is more so.

Example: Robert Johnson. This guy was hailed as being the inventor of the blues, although he achieved his fame mostly in the '40s, long after Blues had been established. Never mind that, he was hailed as some sort of primal force, complete with apocryphal stories linking him to voodoo and witchcraft, staples in the minds of whites infatuated with the black south. Trouble is, Robert Johnson was the protege of another Johnson, Lonnie, who was anything but a pure blues man. Lonnie Johnson blended blues with jazz and established a unique hybrid form of guitar playing which was enormously influential, and in his image as well as in his reality he didn't pretend to be some sort of primal delta guitarist, either. He was more tuned into the jazz world, which was urban and sophisticated, as was the Kansas City blues scene, which he was associated with also, which in its turn made up tempo Blues which you could dance to.

But Robert Johnson, old scary Robert Johnson, remains the image of the evil blues man, sort of like another one, Lightnin' Slim, who, while being a good guitarist, actually had all of his very bluesy sounding lyrics written by his white manager--who specifically wanted to craft lyrics which would be in line with the "blues persona", leading to songs like "Hoodoo Blues", "Nothin' but the Devil", and the directly titled "I'm Evil".

The other example of authenticity gone awry, which is probably more familiar, is actually something which builds on the tradition of fake bluesmen who obey all the stereotypes: the young Bob Dylan, who was inititally presented by his record company to the general public as being a drifter who had lived all across the United States, had hitch hiked, had played with Chicago bluesmen, and was defiantly working class.

This was the exact formulation that someone coming out of a folk music background should have had at the time, and the people at Bob's record label pushed the story with all seriousness, with Nat Hentoff, of Village Voice fame, writing the liner notes extolling the folk experience pedigree of Dylan on Freewheelin'.

Eventually, however, Newsweek (I believe), did some looking into Dylan's past and found out that, yes, he was a middle class kid from Minnesota, who probably had not ever ridden the rails or done a lot of the other things that was claimed of him. This was a serious public relations crisis.

But, of course, Dylan saw himself through it and eventually started to go his own way, one which wasn't dictated by the values and mores of the folk world but instead what he really wanted and, in the process, revolutionized popular music.

I guess the question of authenticity would be this: does the fact that Bob Dylan lied about his past make songs like "Don't Think Twice" or "Hard Rain" any less good? Are his early releases thereby tainted by this revelation?

I don't really think so, although once you know the story you can identify elements of posturing in the records which makes for sometimes uncomfortable listening.

So I'm in agreement with the Stranger's writer, with Chris Parker, although I do think that one can go too far in the other direction too. I mean, I think that music, art, writing, all benefits from experience and that not having a solid backing in experience is sometimes a disability, but that's somewhat besides the point in this context, which is not about the other side but about people claiming extensive experience who turn out not to have any.

Sundance

Sundance is a nice little town in Wyoming that I mainly know as the town you turn off if you're going to "Devil's Tower", of Close Encounters of the Third Kind fame. It also hosts the sundance film festival. Not much to say, honestly, except that I bet the locals don't like it too much.

I know that in Sheridan, up the road quite a bit, the pristine Old West feel, punctuated by yuppie stores, is interrupted now and then by large bilboards painted on the sides of buildings talking about the dangers of meth use, and I can't really see the situation in Sundance being all that different.

Maybe I'm just being cynical here, but I think that the Sundance-ians need to diversify their economy.

"Light of My Life, Fire of My Censorship" Lolita being banned in Ocala, via The Stranger

I had the extreme misfortune of living in Ocala Florida for a period of time, and not during some way back period but rather from, roughly, the last part of 2000 to the beginning of 2002, meaning, among other things, right in the middle of 9/11 hysteria. Here's the start of the news article.

"OCALA, Fla. — A 50-year-old classic novel about forbidden love is shaking things up in Marion County.

The controversy centers on the book “Lolita” and whether it’s obscene under today’s standards, WESH 2 News reported.
“Lolita” is a famous novel full of pages and pages of sexually explicit material about pedophilia.

“I believe that you, at least hypothetically, could read this book and consider it obscene,” said Terry Blaes, of Dunnellon.

She challenged the Marion County Commission to determine whether they should pull “Lolita” from public library shelves, as they have the right to do so.

“I want you to think about the effect of literature on the people who read it, children and adults,” she said."

The place is home to innumerable right wing psychos, who don't give a damn about anyone. Home also to innumerable Confederate Flag sportin' bumperstickers, along with at least one KKK bumpersticker that I saw in my time there. A person I knew claimed that he'd seen a "If I knew this was going to happen I would have picked my own damn cotton" bumpesticker in Ocala, which, in case you can't figure it out, is a reference to black people.

Thing is, I know the Ocala library, which is where the Marion county library commision is. Dunnellon is a tiny town north east of Ocala, but Ocala itself has been the subject of witch hunts regarding content in the library, most recently over the inclusion of gay and lesbian themed material.

Why oh why is it that whenever something fucked up happens it has an Ocala connection? Ocala is the home of the district in Florida whose state rep introduced a bill which would penalize professors who showed 'bias' in their teachings (obviously aimed at Gainesville, 45 minutes up the road from Ocala, where I also lived, which houses the University of Florida and is an oasis of sanity in a very insane area), along with being the home of innumerable anti-abortion bilboards, which are financed by a local Catholic priest who is literally obsessed with the issue and who constantly fundraises for the cause and brings anti-abortion speakers to town. Not that he'd need help in doing so, but the fact remains that although many people are probably sympathetic to the bilboards that he, Father O'Doherty, is the source of them.

The place is a nightmare, a disaster, on all fronts, combining extreme Christianity with extreme corporate libertarianism, meaning that Ocala, which is a sizable place, has no urban planning of any sort and is effectively a large mass of fast food joints and unplanned development, combined with rabid religiosity. A bilboard commission set up in Ocala said that there was no way to quantify negative effects of excessive bilboards and therefore no standard by which they could be regulated, so they're tons of them, but obviously people believe that the people of Ocala are being exposed to too much secular culture, so while bilboards exist every two feet, it seems, a new coffee house has opened in downtown Ocala designed to bring Christian acts to town so that people and families can combat increasing secularism.

Great.

Now people in Marion County want to ban Lolita.

It's not for nothing that whenever I'd drive over the stretch of I-75 which passes over Ocala, on my way from Gainesville to Tampa/St. Pete or elsewhere, I'd inevitably curse Ocala and breath a sigh of relief once I was out of the county.

Monday, January 23, 2006

The difference between Pakistan and Iraq and Afghanistan

In response to the killing of innocent civilians by the predator drone Pakistanis have been justifiably up in arms. Talk of recalling the U.S. embassador and other actions have been circulating along with street protests.

What strikes me is that this is how it should be; protests, threatening diplomatic action, people not laying down and forgetting what happend, all of these things are normal responses to people being killed by a foreign power on their own soil. Yet when this exact same thing, or worse things, happen in Iraq and Afghanistan protests by people are ignored, the psychological impact of it isn't taken into account, and the death toll is reported in the U.S. media as just another acceptable loss in wars against the bad guys.

Chomsky wrote, in some book, I don't remember exactly, that it's a matter of who, according to the U.S. are people and who aren't. If human beings don't count as people you can do anything to them while if they do then your options are constrained.

The border over who is and who isn't a human being in the middle east and west asia appears to be between Pakistan and Afghanistan on one side and Iraq and it's neighbors to the south and west on the other, although even there the tendency seems to be to belittle the humanity of the residents of those countries when attacks happen, for instance in Lebanon.

The "Performance" version of "Memo from Turner"

Is much, much superior. I now have the soundtrack and can compare the two.

Plus, Performance itself is good because it portrays Mick Jagger as an ordinary person, not as a super star.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Good night for Seattle

The Seahawks are going to the Superbowl.

Available now from Amazon.com, the new Lost Highway Book

It's available. The big drawback is that they required me to price the thing up a whole bunch so it's more expensive than I'd like. But you can get it from Amazon.com.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

fahn fahn fahn

I used to do a set, not getting paid for it, unfortunately, all free, of Grateful Dead and Dylan tunes at this one open mic night. Steadily, as time wore on, it became more Dylan, although I mixed it up a lot. I would play Grateful Dead songs on acoustic that had rarely, if ever been recorded on official releases but were present in the Dead's live acts and were published in Grateful Dead Anthology II, a treasure trove of rare and interesting stuff, going through increasing complexity until I was performing stuff like "Lazy River Road" and "Childhood's End". Childhood's End was never recorded on an official release and was only introduced into the Dead's lineup in their last year. Lazy River Road is, I don't know, twenty different chords, maybe fifteen, something like that, in other words not three chord rock. One time I actually performed "Desde Que Samba" by Gilberto Gil, and sung it in Portugese; now, that's a full on Bossa Nova acoustic guitar song, which can drive one crazy.... after I performed it and the audience had a luke warm reaction I bitched them out because it had taken me so fucking long to learn it. Oh well. The next time I performed it, being Florida, there actually were a few Brazillians in the audience, and they loved it.

I explored increasingly obscure Dylan stuff, again playing mostly stuff no one had ever heard of and alternate versions of songs that they had heard of. I actually started off the whole public performance thing with the alternate version of "Tangled up in Blue" recorded on the Bootleg series vol-1-3, the official Dylan rare bootleg series, whose first three volumes came in a boxed set. Performed a gospel version of "Man of Peace", which was included in "Postcards of the hanging", the Dead's live Dylan cover album, as an extra, from their "Dylan & the Dead" tour.

I don't know why I'm saying this, maybe just going through old times since I've been playing my guitar and there isn't a venue close enough to where I am where I'd feel comfortable in doing it again.

That whole thing was in Florida.

Last time I was there I adapted Pink Floyd's "Dogs of War" to a ska version on acoustic, inspired via Laibach's cover on their "N.A.T.O." album, I think I played John Lennon's song "God", which has the litany of "I don't believe in..." then he lists a whole bunch of things, culminating in "I don't believe, in Beatles, I just believe in me, and that's reality. The dream is over, what can I say, the dream is over, yesterday, I was the dreamweaver, but not anymore, I was the Walrus, but now, I'm John, and so dear friends we'll just have to, carry on. The dream is over".

I think I may have performed that before I left for the Pacific Northwest. I came back for a short period before moving here finally permanently totally and played a few nights.

Now, what would I play?

I don't know. I've been entranced by this odd ball song that Mick Jagger performed in the film "Perfomance" called "Memo from Turner" which takes place during this hallucinatory sequence where the lead character, a gangster, has been given mushrooms by Anita Pallenberg and is hallucinating Mick Jagger as his boss "Turner", who, from sitting behind a desk, gets up and moves towards the camera performing this really strange, Dylan-esque, song, with the gangster cronies of the character snapping their fingers and playing along.

I like that. It's on the "Metamorphosis" album, which is an interesting album of material that was alternate takes and unreleased, some only coming out on bootlegs, as well as on the soundtrack to the film.

I haven't heard the "Performance" soundtrack but the Metamorphosis version is interesting, if done a little too fast.

Other musical finds: the "Lucifer Rising" soundtrack, from the Kenneth Anger film, which, unfortunately, I haven't been able to see itself, although I've seen others. The shining star in the "Lucifer Rising" soundtrack is the second CD which are rehearsal sesions for the music by Bobby BeauSoleil and his band, which are interesting psychedelic/indescribable instrumentals.

And, yes, this is what I do when I have too much time on my hands.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Chris Matthews anti-gay statement, plus thoughts on gays and other peoples

Where he repeats Michael Savage's opinion that it's like Bareback Mountin'. That's funny when "The Stranger", our alternative news weekly up here in the greater Seattle area, says it, but not all that funny when little Chris Matthews chirps it out.

Then Imus--Fudge pack Mountin! Ha Ha ha! Oh, that Imus, he kills me, you know?

Maybe "Corn Husker" Mountain will be next.

***

Strange, I was going to write a piece about "Radically Gay", the Harry Hay anthology sometime soon but hadn't got around to it.

I really like Hay's observations from the Gay Liberation Front/ Radical Faerie phase of his career.

Hay made a really big point in defining what gay was not according to who you slept with but according more to things like psychology and participation in gay culture, which is what he used as his criteria for evaluating people who are bisexual.

I happen to agree with that. If bisexuality is a term which means something more specific than, on the one hand, someone who had a gay experience once in their life, then there has to be some way of meaningfully evaluating it, as the analytic philosophers might say.

Participation in gay culture and posessing what could be called a gay psychology, which would lead to much more broader changes and differences in a person in relation to heterosexual norms than mere sexual habits, would appear to meet that criteria.

For me, personally, although I'm also attracted to women, I partake in almost none of the typical hetero male patterns, from being macho and liking sports to "getting" the deal with hetero dating, which, if being bisexual was simply a matter of who you liked to sleep with wouldn't make sense, at least that last part.

After all, if bisexual men are attracted to women wouldn't they date women in the same way as hetero men, and participate in the whole straight dating culture? Not so, at least in my case.

I've thought of describing myself from time to time as a gay man who also likes to date women, because that's more accurate in terms of how I approach things, with dating women and how I approach that in some sort of a gray area between how I relate to men romantically and how I perceive other men as relating to women, which, along with the whole thing, no doubt confuses the hell out of people, but that doesn't matter.

Harry Hay makes the useful distinction between subject-object relationships, which typify the relations between men and women, and subject-SUBJECT (his capitalization) relationships, which typify relations between two men, or possibly two women, who knows, meaning that there isn't the same sort of attempt at psychological objectification between two men as between a man and a woman because men's psychology, at the very least, is similar, and so men relate to each other more like they would in relation to, I don't know, a friend? Words are kind of vague here.

I'm not convinced that it's a matter of social conditioning, as Hay asserted later in life, where the potential exists for pure subject-SUBJECT relationships between men and women, although this can be approached. I think that there are fundamental differences in male and female psychology which make people who are attracted to the opposite sex almost necessarily objectify them--to some extent, because not possessing the same psychology it's very hard to relate to them in a similarly subjective way.

I find myself relating to women in a half way between subject-SUBJECT and subject-object, which means probably, in the last analysis, a heavily subject-SUBJECT colored subject-object relationship although I'd like that not to be true; I'd like it to be the reverse.

But maybe it's a sort of glass half empty glass half full thing, which would explain why so many gay men who attempt to date women approach women more as a good friend and don't seem to very easily move to physical things at all. I don't know, that's just speculation on my part, the rationale being that lacking the equipment to recognize that women have a different psychology gay men therefore don't know how to initiate a physical relationship with them, or to recognize signs of physical attraction. Bisexual men would be somewhere in between this and the way heterosexuals relate to women.

I don't know. I'd like to think that subject-SUBJECT would be possible to approach for everyone, and surely in today's world people do not objectify women quite as much as they have in the past, ok, maybe some men don't, but that's at least a little better than how it used to be.

Reading Majikthise...five things

I've lately started to read blogs.

Yes, I know, this is a dangerously new fangled concept, one which might not be acceptable to a lot of people, but, nevertheless, I'm doing it.

Previously I just couldn't get into other blogs. I don't know for what reason; maybe I was somewhat anxious about my own and saw the others as...no...that's not it, the reason was, quite honestly, because I saw most blogs as being too main stream. Now, I can deal with it and appreciate them.

The excursion into blog land largely came because of news sites not updating often enough to feed my jones. So....started going down Tom Tomorrow's blog roll, reading some stuff here and there, found AmericaBlog, which is really good, as well as a few others.

Oh yeah, the title of this piece, Majikthise...it's a good blog...I was just going to say "Five weird things about me"? Just Five? Let me tell you...

Not really.

Well, yes, really.

Maybe I'll make those writings public sometime, you know, the more personal ones, but as long as this site somewhat depends on my identity being obscured, which has to do with a lot of things, that's not likely to occur since they would make it really, really, easy to find me.

And hurt me.

Bad.

Not saying that I don't respond to legitimate concerns about my writing, but there're always people out there who are total, fucking, psychos, who might not like this site a whole lot.

I don't want to tell them where I live.

Yet.

Maybe in a year or so.

Anyways
Blogs are a good thing, as Marth Stuart might say.

Yeah all of this

Both the first Iraq war and our role in the Yugoslav conflicts has been all about the realignment of global forces, a process that we still see today.

*incidentally, this question, "what does it all add up to?", more than anything else, and the inability of Cold War models to account for it, for any easy answer to come to mind, was what probably motivated Jean Baudrillard to declare that "The gulf war never happened" and that it was in essence a virtual war which was fought primarily through the means of propaganda via television. It did happen but it was vacuous capitalist propaganda in the service of global free market capitalism, which, as an ideology, is pretty vacuous in and of itself, so Baudrillard can be forgiven for being confused.*

Thursday, January 19, 2006

First Gulf War: the first war of the neo-liberal era?

The first Gulf War is a mystery compared to the second one. After all, why would the U.S. turn on an ally in the Middle East, whose style of governing was similar to that of other allies (for instance, the less personality cult based presidency of Hosni Mubarek of Egypt) who the U.S. didn't see any problem with. Why invade a country who, previous to the invasion, you told that you didn't mind their claim of illegal against another country, Kuwait, which was the basis for the invasion of that country which in turn was the basis for the invasion of Iraq?

Why the volte-face when so many other regimes remained untouched?

I think that the solution to the problem has to do with the end of the Cold War, the impending break up of the Soviet Union, and the wish to reorient the world to a "New World Order" that would be significantly founded on the free market and free market principles, things which, when extended globally, would coalesce under the term neo-liberalism.

It's important to remember that when the first Gulf War happened the Soviet Union was still in existence; Gorbachev was still in power, but the regimes of Eastern Europe, who weren't part of the Soviet Union itself had defected from the Eastern Bloc. Gorbachev had signalled to President H.W. Bush that he wouldn't militarily oppose the invasion of Iraq, thereby ending in a very real way the automatic standoff between east and west which brought the world to the brink of mutually assured destruction.

This was a new war based on new principles, principles that hopefully would be enshrined in the new international order once the Soviet Union had fully dismantled itself, if it ever did so, which, conveniently for the U.S., it soon would thanks to the suspiciously western oriented Boris Yeltsin.

Taken in the context of incipient globalization what was Saddam Hussein's crime: to be a secular nationalist and somewhat of a socialist who happened to control a whole lot of oil, which, along with selling on the international market, he also used to fund projects connected with his regime.

Saddam's crime was that he wasn't sufficiently open to having his oil reserves exploited by foreign powers, and, unlike in Iran, he could be dealt with without a complete and total revolutionary and religious war directed against the U.S. military.

It's interesting that one of the consequences of that Gulf War was to establish permanent bases in Saudi Arabia, another oil producing country that wasn't totally open, and still isn't, to external control.

So the first Gulf War happened, Saddam Hussein was driven out of Kuwait, another very cooperative state in the oil world, and, although the military could have, it didn't drive Hussein out of power but instead settled on a punitive series of sanctions.

The U.S. in fact gave dissidents the impression that if they'd rise up and attempt to overthrow Hussein that they'd be aided by the U.S. The result was an uprising in the south which was brutally repressed by Hussein. We didn't support them.

The possible reason for that is important, as is the reason for the sanctions, which, it has been argued, were ultimately counter productive.

The reason given by some of the Counterpunch authors for the lack of support for the insurrection was fear that the regime that would replace Saddam wouldn't be sympathetic to either the west or to the west's exploitation of oil resources. Therefore, keeping Saddam in power, albeit crippled, until it was possible to deal with him militarily, was the best way to ensure that no one replaced Saddam who was worse in terms of the United State's interest.

People have commented, again, I'm referencing CounterPunch, that the sanctions in fact helped keep Saddam in power. This is very likely. The sanctions had the effect of making the people in general directly dependent on Hussein's patronage, in a way which they weren't before. Hussein controlled the distribution of many goods imported to the country, bought with oil revenue, and, with external sanctions, the average people of the country were even more vulnerable to his patronage system.

So Saddam trudged on, not being thrown out of power by his own people and not being able to really do anything himself, until an opportunity came about to take him out, overthrow the government, and restructure it according to our plans, which have entailed total privatization of oil and the rest of the state run edifice of Hussein's time.

In this way, I suppose, we prosecuted a war, albeit with its final act postponed for a decade, in the service of American backed neo-liberal capitalist globalization. Or at least American style globalization, since globalization as it's currently formulated is really only backed by the American state, and possibly Britain, although various right wing parties in continental Europe might be sympathetic to it.

Anyways, to bring it back to the center, if Hussein was allowed to absorb Kuwaiti oil that would have effectively have put one of our sources of oil under the control of a nationalistic, semi-socialist, regime, which would have used it for its own benefit, whereas having the oil still under the control of Kuwait, with Iraq only having its own supplies to process, would have kept the oil in the control of a state which was much more sympathetic to U.S. wishes.

But then there's OPEC, you might say, but it's worth keeping in mind that despite OPEC's power George Bush can go over to Saudi Arabia and convince the ruling family to pump more oil out in order to keep the prices down whereas if OPEC were truly as indpendent as it's portrayed nothing of that sort could have happened. Maybe that's what military bases in the country get you.

These are my thoughts on the conflict; nothing really makes sense beyond it, at least to me, because the initial invasion of Iraq makes no sense in terms of the Cold War construct. It only makes sense in light of a new strategy which would sacrifice old allies for some new type of global order based on U.S. capitalist domination.

Saddam Hussein: tyrant who happened to have a whole 'lot of oil under his country

That's how I understand the war against Iraq and the demonization of Saddam Hussein. Surely Saddam Hussein was a tyrant and a tyrannical dictator, who did repress the Kurds and engage in a war with Iran where he used chemical weapons, but so were the people responsable for the violence in Rwanda, so were the people responsable for the violence in East Timor. The difference between them and Hussein is that they were tyrants who didn't happen to be sitting on massive reserves of one of the most sought after natural resources in the world.

I don't doubt that Hussein was a bad guy, but I don't think for a second that the United States decides to intervene in places simply out of the goodness of its heart. If it did it would have intervened, yes, in Rwanda and in East Timor. The two places which it did intervene, Iraq and the former Yugoslavia, were both places that had siginificant assets that made such an intervention attractive. With the Balkans the asset was the extremely good strategic position of the Balkan penninsula with respect to both Europe, Russia, and the the eastern Mediterranian. In fact, the U.S. has established an enourmous base there, in Kosovo, called "Camp Bondsteel", which is no doubt used to support the Iraq war right now and which has been alleged as being one of the places where the CIA established prisons and engaged in torture.

Like with Hussein there's no doubt that both Slobodan Milosevic and his lesser known counterpart, Franjo Tudjman, the ultra nationalist dictator of Croatia, were rabid thugs, but concern for Balkan blood seemed to come at a very opportune time for the U.S. , i.e. the end of the Cold War when the balance of military power was up for grabs.

Why was Hussein targetted in the first place, in the first Gulf War? Read a coming blog entry for my thoughts on that one.

Update on Walt and Anger

The link above is to the interview in "Bizarre" magazine, a mag coming out of England.

The relevant quotes are these "Not included in the Hollywood Babylon books was the story of how a young Kenneth Anger was taken by his grandmother to meet Walt Disney. Uncle Walt was only too delighted to meet the "little Mousketeer", it seems:

"He put his hand in the middle of my... you can print all this if you want, I don't give a fuck. It's true. And he did it with hundreds of boys, not girls. Walt Disney liked little boys. He was a closet paedophile. He never took their pants down or sucked them off or anything like that. But this is what happened. He put me on his lap. Slowly, I felt within his pants about an 8in erection. Right in front of my grandmother. She thought he was a harmless eccentric, but he was also a calculating monster.""

An America blog post makes me think of this....Ole' Uncle Walt

The post is in relation to a "Richard Disney" who is using the Disney corporation's trademarked logo.

Anyways, the other Disney, namely Walt, was alleged to have some keen interest in children's affairs.

According to avant-garde film maker Kenneth Anger, in an interview which is available on the web, when Anger met Disney as a child and sat on his lap he felt a very large, possibly eight inch, erection from inside old Uncle Walt's pants, and specifically says that Disney was a closet pedophile.

Mind you, this is Anger's opinion and Anger's words (paraphrased), who also said that he's at a point in life where he doesn't really care about the ramifications of such an opinion.

The whole thing makes Disney's fascination with the world of children be, umm, a little icky?

Yeah, that's the word for it....

And what did I say? :"Study: Most College Students Lack Skills"

"WASHINGTON - Nearing a diploma, most college students cannot handle many complex but common tasks, from understanding credit card offers to comparing the cost per ounce of food.

Those are the sobering findings of a study of literacy on college campuses, the first to target the skills of students as they approach the start of their careers.

More than 50 percent of students at four-year schools and more than 75 percent at two-year colleges lacked the skills to perform complex literacy tasks.

...

The results cut across three types of literacy: analyzing news stories and other prose, understanding documents and having math skills needed for checkbooks or restaurant tips.

"It is kind of disturbing that a lot of folks are graduating with a degree and they're not going to be able to do those things," said Stephane Baldi, the study's director at the American Institutes for Research, a behavioral and social science research organization."

Response to comment

Yes, I know that Saddam Hussein committed his worst atrocities when he was our ally. Unfortunately, that sort of moral equivalency didn't really have that much traction. We supported him, yet we went to war against him, twice.

I wanted to find some paralell of a country doing something very similar where it did not experience invasion, sanctions, etc..

Indonesia fits that bill.

It's better to argue that mass murder only counts when it's convenient for the U.S.' interest beause it makes the connection more immediate; arguing about who our 'allies' were in the 1980s is much less likely to have the same impact.

Bin Laden says he's preparing to attack the U.S. again

Great. There goes our civil liberties, our constitution (flawed as it may be), our opportunity to oppose the Bush administration without us being labelled terrorists.

I don't know--do you think that I should move to a remote part of the Olympic Penninsula now or later?

I fucking hate Bin Laden, but I hate him because (apart from killing innocent people) he gives the Bush administration reason to do just what it wants.

In this he is indeed an enemy of freedom---he enables those in power in the U.S. who themselves hate freedom to pursue their agenda without obstacles.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

But, he killed his own people, right?

Therefore, Saddam Hussein was capable of anything and was desperately trying to get weapons of mass destruction which, given his rabidly crazy nature, he was liable to use against us, or anyone else.

Well, even though the point is some what moot now that we've already invaded and taken over the place, i.e. there isn't the same immediate urgency to making these arguments as there was in the pre-war build up, it's still worth taking a look at these justifications, with the possibility even on the horizon that if the rationale for war is seriously looked at for disciplinary action that it could count as much as before the war.

So I've been thinking about that justification and one word has been popping into my mind: "Indonesia". While Hussein's use of poison gas against the Kurds is reprehensible, the Indonesian military carried out a full fledged genocide against the East Timorese people during the '90s, at a time when we were giving aid to the military there. The East Timorese were murdered in a way possibly more brutal than poison gas or biological weapons. Troops would go into a village, cordon it off, and wait for the people to slowly die of starvation instead of out right mass murdering them, although I'm sure some of that went on as well.

And we funded it.

We funded Suharto, the longtime dictator of Indonesia, and we funded the Indonesian military. Official aid was cut off then aid was given through back channels and now, in the wake of the Tsunami, official aid to the Indonesian military has been reinstated.

Now, even though East Timor is an independent state, the military is brutally repressing a secessionist movement in the island of Aceh, which is where the epicenter of the tsunami was.

According to the logic used to invade Iraq and overthrow Hussein surely Indonesia has to be one of the spots that we must consider waging war against, for our own good, because they've demonstrated time and time again a willingness to use brutal force against innocent civilians.

If Indonesia isn't stopped now we might be playing gamelan's instead of guitars in twenty years.

American Idol

Which just had a story about it linked on the HuffPo.

I don't know. I've seen exactly one episode of it and the singing styles and song choice just weren't my thing, so I never watched any more.

The whole thing seems to be like Napoleon ruling France by plebiscite, i.e. it's something which, with the viewer vote, gives people the illusion of having some say over who exactly gets to be these type of huge, over arching, figures, that the entertainment industry promotes without ever giving it in reality.

If people want something which is really their choice they should support their local music scenes, because that's the only place where authentic new voices come from. It does not come from some show produced by Fox, with insanely large try outs and celebrity judges.

Why have just one American Idol when you can have a plethora of idols, all supported by your city, neighborhood, whatever?

The bottom line is that, beyond spectacles like American Idol, people who are in bands need to eat and to be able to support themselves, at least more easily than they are currently. While it's true that most bands probably will not be able to quit their day jobs it's equally true that having a little money coming in from shows instead of it be a total money loser surely lessens the blow.

Then, if that happened, maybe you'd have actual breakthroughs in style from outsiders instead of simluated outsiders having a simulation of 'breaking through' via American Idol.

Two years in the pacific northwest

And I finally feel like I'm getting on top of things.

This is much better than the time around which I first arrived; that time my luggage was temporarily lost and, upon checking into a motel..and then about a day passing without my meds for bipolar, I went into convulsions and ended up, after locking myself in my room, somewhat mumifying myself in sheets to hold myself still until, after sweating, moaning, and pissing, I basically passed out.

Then the next day, when the pharmacies were open, a very smelly me went via bus to the nearest Walgreens where upon I retreated to a bookstore bathroom to take my pills, return to some semblance of normalcy, and then take the bus back to my room, shower, and get on with things.

Totally true, and there's not even any fake drug addiction behind it.

Parrot turns informer

Although he probably did it because the guy was extraordinarily nice to him:

From the BBC: "Parrot squawks on woman's affair

African Greys are often considered the best speakers among parrots
A parrot owner was alerted to his girlfriend's infidelity when his talkative pet let the cat out of the bag by squawking "I love you Gary".

Suzy Collins had been meeting ex-work colleague "Gary" for four months in the Leeds flat she shared with her partner Chris Taylor, according to reports.

Mr Taylor apparently became suspicious after Ziggy croaked "Hiya Gary" when Ms Collins answered her mobile phone.

The parrot also made smooching sounds whenever the name Gary was said on TV."

Thoughts on the UCLA student spying scandal, or hopeful scandal

A group of conservative UCLA students have started to offer $100 to anyone who was willing to tape or take notes of professors pushing radical ideologies not connected with the class material.

One of the first things that I thought of when hearing this was that at least this will get people to attend classes, which points to the bigger problem which I feel this is a subset of: that school preparation and student initiative has fallen so low that colleges risk the possibility of having people who have no interest in academics dictate to them what they should do.

I take this whole thing as being indicative of the fact that students accepted to elite schools probably don't know much in the way of critical thinking and those elite schools themselves have probably abdicated in their responsabilities to teach it to kids and to be anything other than conveniant diploma mills. Unless you're actually going to one of the ivy league schools, are in a special program in a large university, or are going to a progressive liberal arts college, there's probably not of honest education going on and, instead, a lot of several hundred person lectures, grading pro-forma by TA's who care more about their Graduate classes, and a lot of good grades going to people who essentially regurgitate a decent sounding spiel instead of having their papers and such be the product of actual engagement with the material.

Most colleges in the U.S., including most 'elite' schools, are jokes, pure and simple, where people learn how to obey and follow orders, please professors by echoing their interests in their work, and how to slack off, drink to their heart's content, smoke weed, and party, while still maintaining a high GPA.

The consequence of all of this is that, essentially, people with the conservative attitude equivalent to that of the Khmer Rouge have been able to influence schools into obeying their demands with little or no justification to back them up with.

But that doesn't matter, and that's the point: schools are so messed up in the United States that it's basically a free for all of attempted influence. Want to shut down debate and impose your viewpoint? Sure, why not, it's not like there are many people who actually care enough about education to stop you.

Rome is being burnt by barbarians while the student population fiddles.

The solution isn't just to stop the burning but to rebuild Rome, as it were, to be something that's actually functional and succesful, rather than a rubber stamp for people who don't care.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

From the OKcupid site: a politics test

"You are a Social Liberal (91% permissive)

and an... Economic Liberal (5% permissive)

You are best described as a: Socialist

You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness."

Who'd of thought it?

In fact I'm so far to the left that on their little chart showing which celebrity I resemble it's Gandhi, which is strange since I don't believe in non-violence or pacifism, although I do believe in non-violence as a valuable tactic.

I like how the people put an interesting picture over the "fascist" section: instead of Mussolini or Hitler they used Augusto Pinochet. Guess you can't offend too many fascists by comparing them to Mussolini.


* addendum

What I guess those two numbers mean is that a) I believe very strongly in social liberalism and b) I don't believe almost at all in a free market or in an unregulated capitalist economy. Both things are, in fact, very correct. As said before, who'd of thought it?

What I've been doing

For some reason this hasn't been a really fast paced news week, or, for that matter, news month.

Sure, the whole NSA spying thing came out, but it seems like everything that could be said was said in the first week or so and that beyond that people have increasingly been running on fumes in order to get stories out. Such a strategy isn't good for writing new and engaging stories.

In my case, to make things worse, one can only pull stories from books that you read out of the hat for so long before even that becomes stale.

I'm not entirely sure why the news seems to be less exciting than usual but whatever the reason it's not been good for copy....I feel like some sort of twilight has been setting in, like the juggernaut of Bush criticism has increasingly run aground and out of steam.

Which brings me to what I've been doing, or, rather, which leads to a commentary about this whole situation....which is to say that within this sphere of increasing boredom it looks like the most siginificant, or most rewarding, things that I've been doing (besides trolling news sites for a story, any story, that I could comment on which would be worth it) are a) watching a lot of Jean Cocteau movies, b) reading "The Master and Margarita" by Mikhail Bulgakov, and c) listening to a lot of angsty KMFDM, as well as watching the DVD of Laibach's videos.

Not all that much there.

I watched the rare seventies movie "Performance" a few days ago, starring Mick Jagger; that was pretty cool. I've eaten a lot of sour dough bread with brummel and brown yogurt margarine spread, that tasted pretty good.

I don't know....out of boredom I've been plotting my next vacation, which should be sometime at the end of March, possibly going down to S.F. and staying at the hostel in the Presidio, checking out the best that San Francisco and Berkeley have to offer..

I feel like I've talked and talked and talked and now feel pretty exhausted, especially since, in essence, in looking at political theory I've basically exhausted all of political theory, with the frontiers now being things like "The political thought of Byzantine Greece" and things of that sort, which, although interesting, seems to be diminishing in the returns that it's giving for the effort needed to look at it and think about it.

James Frey seemed to give a little bit of interesting color with his fraud in "Million little Pieces" but even that has passed, become passe....

Oh, yeah, I saw the film "Zizek!" at its opening night at the Northwest Film Forum in Seattle and that was pretty good and interesting, the evening being a screening of the movie, about the philosopher Slavoj Zizek, and then an open discussion with two UW professors. That was interesting.

I don't know, if I had the option of not doing anything except that which I wanted to do, and had infinite time to do it in, I would probably do some reading of the most essential writings of Ernst Cassirer, the Neo-Kantian philosopher. He wrote a lot; I read some of his book on the Renaissance and was suitably impressed, but there're only so many hours in the day, unfortunately, and although the politics scene seems to be pretty boring right now I have other commitments that take up my time.

Who knows.

Maybe they'll try to invade Iran and the Officers will start a revolt which will end with Bush being deposed and a transitional military government taking power, but that's just hopeful thinking.

Ok, I apologize

The whole thing about the "breaka the face" thing with Evan Derkacz' recent article was really overstated. Plus, there really isn't much of a comparison between anti-Italian sentiment, which, in fairness, this really wasn't, and anti-semitism, which is much more serious.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

More Disinfo irrelevancy

From Friday's Disinfo.com news wire:

"Georgetown University's Daniel Byman notes that James Risen's State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration (New York: The Free Press, 2006) fails to live up to its title's promise. Byman contends that Risen's revelations don't 'help readers understand the tradeoffs and constraints that policymakers and intelligence professionals face.' Risen's anonymous sources means that readers are unable to judge their biases."

followed by

"Fortean Times' Richard Alexander spends most of his review of The Secret King: Karl Maria Wiligut - Himmler's Lord of the Runes praising the introduction and translation by Runa Raven publisher Stephen Edred Flowers. The rest of Alexander's review describes Wiligut's occult philosophy and his influence on Heinrich Himmler's SS."

So, in review, Disinfo takes the word of a Georgetown scholar about Bush who makes excuses for him, talking about how the author doesn't talk about the oh so hard constraints that law makers face....yet, shortly before that, is happy and chipper about an article about SS spirituality. Not alleged Nazi occult bullshit but the actual documents that the higher ups in the SS commissioned and believed in.


Am I the only one who sees something wrong with this picture, who maybe thinks that Disinfo's bullshit about being 'cautious' regarding allegations surrounding the Bush administration, while it praises Nazi spirituality is hypocritical in the extreme?

By all means, lets enthuse about Nazi spirituality and give Bush a free pass.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Plato, Egypt, and "Philosophy"

I've been imbibing "Black Athena" for....about a week? Maybe a little less? I'm not sure, but it's portrayed a picture both of the construction of the "Classics" and of what the philosophers writing at the time of ancient Greece might really been doing which is pretty amazing.

Basically, a sterile "Classics" was the invention of the early 19th century, which went along, at least in England, with a rabid Eurocentric ideology which, while subjugating the rest of the world, resussitated the "Classics" as really referring to proto-English people, thereby seeing the British in the 19th century as the rightful heirs of that tradition.

The racist, ethnocentric, notions were common to a lot of English writing, for instance the edition I have of the Lusiads by Camoens, which is a Portugese, seafaring oriented, epic poem, which in its translators introduction tries to make the claim that Portugal was great because the royal family had English blood, therefore Henry the Navigator wasn't a dirty old Latin but a right straight Englishman, a bull shit claim if there ever was one.

Anyways, the construction of the "Classics" is complete bullshit.

Which brings me to Plato and philosophy. From a reading of Black Athena it looks very strongly like Plato wasn't intending his works to be purely some sort of abstract philosophy but for them to have both philosophical and Religious significance. Bernal argues forcefully that the religious aspects of Plato's ideas were gained from observation and thought dealing with Egypt and Egyptian religion.

This is especially interesting because it's precisely this that the corpus of writings known as neo-platonic assert. These were the writings of people linearily connected with Plato's academy down to the first centuries A.D., but their significance has been downplayed because they didn't look at the Platonic scheme of things as being pure, abstract, philosophy but also being an accurate reflection of how the universe actually worked, with elements of Plato's philosophy like the famous "Cave Metaphor" being taken to be an account of occult initiation and the attainment of mystical wisdom, not just a charming tale about how when someone contemplates the absolute for a long time they find it hard to talk about to other people once they come back to earth.

From Black Athena, as well as from my own readings of neo-Platonic writers, it appears that the idea of Plato's philosophy at once being philosophy and religious and occult thoughts all at the same time seems to have been the predominate way that the ancients thought about Plato, with even Christianity absorbing Platonic theology.

Just look at the hierarchies constructed by Pseudo-Dionysus if you want proof of this. This description of the universe, which classifies everything from rocks on up to Angels, is constructed according to the thought of the neo-Platonists, most particularly Plotinus, who was the originator of the idea of the concept of fullness, or pleroma, which said that every degree of existence which existed is occcupied by something, that the universe was thus full, thus providing an unbroken chain of really existing being from the smallest rock to the highest order of angel.

This was quite possibly the theological basis for the entirety of medeival Christian thought on society prior to Thomas Aquinas, which had direct implications in legitimizing the feudal system, i.e. that the relationship of serf to lord to duke to prince was part of the same chain which connected rocks to plants to small animals to big animals to humans to higher spiritual powers.

So the influence of mystical neo-Platonism and the semi-religious interpretation of Plato, possibly as prisca theologia, or the theology which was developed before the revelation of Christ, i.e. when man was in his pristine state, has been anything but an insignificant foot note for western society.

Another reason to hate Amazon

OK, I live pretty fucking close to Amazon. I could drive up to their fucking headquarters and pick up a book if that were possible. So I thought that ordering would be somewhat fast, after all, Powells, which is in Portland, is so fast that it's often here virtually overnight.

I don't usually order from Amazon, unless it's late and I'm tired and just want to get my hands on the book. This happened recently with a book on gay liberation, namely the collected writings of Harry Hay, which I believe I mentioned in the post about the Stranger's gay issue earlier this week. So I ordered. Nothing. Waited. Nothing.

Now, I just went to the Amazon.com site and tracked my order.

Turns out that, no, they didn't send it from Seattle but instead they sent it from a facillity in Nashville, Tennessee.

That's right. Not from Seattle, where it would be here in a day, but all the fucking way out in Tennessee.

And by UPS, no less.

It could get here in a day via Media Mail.

Fuck Amazon to hell. I'm exclusively Powells here from now on.

Laura K. Donohue: "You're being Watched"

As I was saying about that surveillance....

"Since 9/11, the expansion of efforts to gather and analyze information on U.S. citizens is nothing short of staggering. The government collects vast troves of data, including consumer credit histories and medical and travel records. Databases track Americans' networks of friends, family and associates, not just to identify who is a terrorist but to try to predict who might become one.

...

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency runs a data-mining program called Evidence Extraction and Link Discovery, which connects pieces of information from vast amounts of data sources. The Defense Intelligence Agency trawls intelligence records and the Internet to identify Americans connected to foreign terrorists. The CIA reportedly runs Quantum Leap, which gathers personal information on individuals from private and public sources. In 2002, Congress authorized $500 million for the Homeland Security Department to develop "data mining and other advanced analytical tools." In 2004, the General Accounting Office surveyed 128 federal departments and agencies to determine the extent of data mining. It found 199 operations, 14 of which related to counterterrorism.

What type of information could these mine? Your tax, education, vehicle, criminal and welfare records for starters. But also other digital data, such as your travel, medical and insurance records — and DNA tests. Section 505 of the Patriot Act (innocuously titled "Miscellaneous National Security Authorities") extends the type of information the government can obtain without a warrant to include credit card records, bank account numbers and information on Internet use.

....

A University of Illinois study found that in the 12 months following 9/11, federal agents made at least 545 visits to libraries to obtain information about patrons. This isn't just data surveillance. It's psychological surveillance.


...

The FBI has used Patriot Act powers to break into a judge's chambers and to procure records from medical clinics. Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union recently revealed that the FBI used other new powers to eavesdrop on environmental, political and religious organizations.

....

Laura K. Donohue is a fellow at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation and author of the forthcoming "Counterterrorism and the Death of Liberalism" (Cambridge University Press). "

Coulter says dems "Brain Damaged"

Dems say that Coulter uses things like this to keep away from having to make real arguments.

For an ivy league graduate Coulter is sure a terrible debater.

"You're brain damaged! You're brain damaged!"

Fuck you, you stupid bitch.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

On Laibach

Laibach is a post-modern art/performance band or group. They take songs, symbols, and cultural references from the mix, take them apart, and put them back together in order to make points about society, at the beginning about Yugoslav society but, since Yugoslavia's breakup increasingly about broader themes, including the civil wars in the ex-Yugoslav states. Because their music is very harsh they're usually called industrial, as is the case for other reasons, but they're really just artists. As Ivan Novak, a founding member of Laibach, said in Seattle last year at the opening of the NSK exhibit at the Frye Museum of Art, they're not "cover songs", this is not Laibach "covering" a song but instead reworking it and giving it a new meaning, which, of course, is by no means easily apparent from a casual listening of the the songs themselves.

NSK, which has the visual art component of this whole thing, IRWIN, much more obviously takes from different symbolic traditions and reassembles them into something new. The evidence of it, of course, is right in front of you in the forms of collage and paintings which in themselves combine very obviously different symbols. Laibach's music, on the other hand, can be listened to without one guessing that they're messing with the meanings of the songs; this of course leads to false ideas about what they're trying to say but, as the band says, they function somewhat as a mirror, by which they mean that since they deal with symbols and popular culture that if you listen to their songs with no idea what they're about your reading of them is likely to be more reflective of you than of them.

Žižek and Transgression

Slavoj Žižek made an interesting point in a movie entitled "Predictions of Fire", which is about the Slovene band Laibach and the kindred artistic movement which they're a part of, NSK, or Neue Slowenische Kunst, New Slovene Art.

Talking about the theory that we challenge the state and the dominant spheres of society by purposely transgressing the standards etc.., i.e. by not following rules or doing shocking things or engaging in criminality, all topics (under the broad category of transgression) which have attracted attention from academics as means of resistence, meaning resisting the dominant paradigm by transgressing it, isn't really effective.

There are quite a few books about the necessity of challenging society by transgressing, "Teaching to Transgress" by bell hooks, but more commonly books of social history which have charted the transgressive activity of people who were marginalized, with an emphasis on gender and sexuality, so the theme is a strong one.

Žižek argues that all of this really isn't a good strategy for challenging the status quo for the simple reason that the powers that be, the people who make up the status quo themselves, already transgress the standards that they themselves set; corruption, both in the State and, to extend his argument, in Capitalism, is endemic. They're already breaking their own laws, whether they proudly pronounce it like the Bush administration does or keep it secret, like Nixon and, say, Enron, did. So the fact that transgression is already part of the game, however informally, seriously challenges the idea that to effectively counter state power all you have to do is to be self-consciously transgressive against the ideals that the State promotes, whether in a counter-cultural way or otherwise. The same thing could be said of capitalist culture in general. The idea of a "Rebel" has been so thoroughly assimilated that it in itself holds almost no power as something which could challenge capitalism. During the '90s, in fact, the capitalists associated with the dot com boom self consciously used revolutionary rhetoric to describe what they were doing, a fact copiously documented by Thomas Frank in his book "One Market Under God". The fact that Henry Rollins, hardcore punk rocker extraordinaire has morphed into something of a pro-capitalist figure is another sign of the loss of relevance of the traditional 'rebel' figure, as is the general institutionalization of Punk rock as a sort of "Permanent Revolution" a kind of rebellion which never ends. The phrase "Permanent Revolution" originally came from Trotsky and Trotskyist political groups; seeing the self importance and general irrelevancy that many of those groups have I see the paralells between them and Punk as it stands today to be pretty strong.

Be that as it may the general point stands, which prompts Žižek to ask just what is effective. The answer he gives, being that it's in the context of a film about Laibach, is justifiably that Laibach itself represented just such a real, effective, threat to the Yugoslav system, but the details of that are beyond this post. More generally, the question of what exactly is effective could be answered, or at least indicated, by what exactly is not, according to this model, effective, which is infantile thumbing your nose at authority.

I think that what Žižek indicates is a need to get beyond pure negativity and engage the system through some sort of positive concepts, whether that means spitting the biases of the state back at it through self conscious parody, as Laibach did, or by doing the harder job of identifying the positive features of whatever sort of society that we want to construct and going from there---although the result of this exercise is almost necessarily bound to be fragmentary and disjointed.

Joe Baigent: "Revenge of the Mutt people"

My, from the way Joe Baigent describes his "Mutt People" you'd have thought they'd have been enslaved, worked plantations, and then experienced legal segregation for almost a hundred years. But no, Baigent's "Mutt People" are Scotch-Irish, who certainly suffered more than blacks, hispanics, and Native Americans, right Joe? The steely eyed disdain of elitist city liberals must not compare to the slave masters' whip.

The Ultimate Consequences of the Bush administration

Reading the latest Tom Tomorrow cartoon, which basically illustrates the fact that it seems like nothing the Bush administration does will ever stick to it, history has a little warning.

The thing is, in my reading of history, when Russia erupted it wasn't because the oppression there was worse than other places but because, for decades and decades, the country had been ruled by an aristocracy that wouldn't budge an inch and when it did budge it granted largely ineffectual reforms, like the institution of the Duma after the Revolution of 1905. Anyways, I would argue that the fact that Russia erupted in violent revolution was because the decaying monarchy sat on society refusing to budge for so long, not being amenable to reform for so long, that when crisis hit in the form of World War I it not only shook the monarchy but overturned it and utterly destroyed it, taking a big part of established society with it.

The Bush administration's teflon attitude towards responsability, including taking responsability for its own actions, is leading it down a similar road.

If nothing happens, if a Bush crony gets elected in 2008, the administration continues to do things to the world and to the citizens of America without any sort of accountability, the anger and the protest will grow and grow until the Bushist administration meets a similar end to that of the Romanovs.

Well I'll be..

It turns out that the NSA really was spying on internal groups, probably in concert with the FBI. The title link is to a Raw Story article which reproduces the actual NSA documents which say how they're collaborating with local forces to surveill a Quaker peace group in Baltimore

Personally, I was sceptical that the whole NSA spying on people inside the U.S. thing was what it really appeared to b. It seemed more likely to me that the NSA had monitored people who had called internationally and things like that, an impression that was bolstered by the fact that the people who were reporting on the NSA didn't appear to have the foggiest idea of what it actually was and, because of this, put things on the NSA that were beyond its stated job.

It says specifically that the NSA cooperated with the Baltimore JTTF, Joint Terrorism Task Force, which is a combination of federal and local law enforcement agencies which monitors supposed Terrorist activity, and which can be found all over the country, including in the Puget sound area.

How about that.

Add psyops and actual attempts not just to monitor groups but to disrupt groups and you almost have a pristine picture of what's going on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Damn good old 'Stranger' article: "Conservative Paradise"

Wherein the author travels to the three counties in the nation which reported no men or women cohabiting with people of the same sex and observes what the hell it's like there....and while it might be more boring than anything else it certainly is not a society without imperfections. The article is written in response to claims that gay marriage will lead to the downfall of western civilization through undermining a fundamental social institution. These are the places where no people 'cohabiting' are reported as living. Let's look at them and see what the deal is. The article is interspersed with other themes from the Stranger's special gay edition, which I missed, from 2004, having to do with the travels and travails of gay people, specifically wandering from place to place to find one's identity.

I'm reminded, as someone who plays on both sides of the fence, of my own travels, and surprisingly, it seems to fit the pattern. I ended up living about forty five minutes from Key West for about a year and a half, during which time, both because of the change of scenery in Florida in general and the city, I really did come into my own. Then, after several other moves I made the big move out here to Washington, in effect putting into practice and into action what I'd learned about myself in Florida.

Lately I've been thinking about sexuality and it's come to me: the key for me is to not think about sexuality. Just be. Don't analyze the hell out of it just go with the flow and accept whatever comes of it. I've been thinking that an ideal world would be one where you don't have to announce your sexuality, gay or straight or whatever, but instead you just are, you just be, and you're accepted for it, no matter what that is.

So I don't know if the whole Florida-Washington trip fits the queer stereotype or not but the idea of a journey to free one's self and to find one's self is something that heartily resonates here.

The strange ambiguity of the Pacific Northwest

I've been wanting to write a lot on this subject. It's very interesting.

I guess I'd start by saying that the Pacific Northwest is at once one of the most normal places on earth and also one of the most unusual. It contrasts with California in that what you notice first is the similarities to middle America, not the differences, which only come out later.

This makes for a strange environment. In California you know you're in a different place, some place different from many parts of the U.S.. There's a self consciousness about it. There isn't in the Pacific Northwest, at least in Washington state. Portland, maybe, but that's because Portland is largely a northern outpost of California. Oregon in general isn't the best example of what I'm talking about because the culture wars are pitched and furious in a way that they aren't in Washington.

I don't know quite how to describe it....ordinary weirdness? Weirdness gone domestic? Maybe it adds up to a dayside/nightside difference.

The dayside face of the Pacific Northwest is nice and normal; the nightside version is when all the stuff that people don't talk about in the day comes out, where the real face of the Northwest manifests itself.

Just ask anyone who's been around Seattle or other metro areas in western Washington on a weekend night; you'll notice the atmosphere of anarchy around and the fact that strange things and out of control behavior tends to happen to a greater extent in these times than in paralell times elsewhere.

There's a pervasive sense of darkness that inhabits the Pacific Northwest, like one of Lovecraft's portrayals of decadent New England towns where something, who knows what, is very, very, different than elsewhere. That's why I love the Pacific Northwest; the darkness appeals to me. I have absolutely no problem with the Nightside manifestations of chaos and anarchy in the northwest.

Maybe it ultimately comes from the high latitudes, causing an extremely long night in the winter and a very long day in the summer. But chaos is present and invades the day every once in a while, in a way which would make fans of Lovecraft proud.