Thursday, November 29, 2012

UN general assembly makes resounding vote in favour of Palestinian statehood.
Overwhelming majority votes to recognize Palestine as non-member state as US and Israel are left to condemn decision.

Green: In favor; Red: Against; Yellow: Abstain; Blue: Absent; Grey: Non-Members
Corey Robin: "White Men of Democracy"
So, yes, Lincoln plays a role in Lincoln, but it’s just that: a role. Seward, Spader and his goons, Thaddeus Stevens (Tommy Lee Jones), even crazy Mary Todd Lincoln (Sally Fields)—everyone has a hand in freeing the slaves.

Everyone, it seems, save the slaves themselves.
Where are the Palestinians in white liberal discussion of Palestine?
It's enough to turn me into an orthodox Freudian.

Robin say's he's running out of patience with me.
I had a longer comment, but I deleted it. I shouldn't have.
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Joseph Massad on the UN vote.
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This is getting absurd
Jefferson, I would submit, should be remembered not only as the writer of the Declaration of Independence and owner of slaves, but also as a contributor, along with his successors, to a doctrine of race war and what Hannah Arendt would later call, in another context, “race imperialism”—which would find its ultimate fulfillment a century later, and a continent away.

...With their orientation to the future and acute sense of victimhood, the southern writers adopted an ethos geared less to liberalism or conservatism—ideologies arising from previous centuries of European conflict—than to fascism, the one ism of the twentieth century that could and would make a legitimate claim to novelty. They beat the drums of race war. Like the Nazis ca. 1940, they offered deportation and extermination as final solutions to the Negro Question. If blacks were set free, Jefferson warned, it would “produce convulsions which will probably never end but in the extermination of one race or the other.” The only alternative was an “effort…unknown to history. When freed, he [the slave] is to be removed beyond the mixture.” Anticipating the writings of Robert Brassilach, the French fascist who argued that compassion meant that Jewish children should be deported from France with their parents, Dew claimed, “If our slaves are ever to be sent away in any systematic manner, humanity demands that they should be carried in families.” If the slaves were freed, Harper concluded, “one race must be driven out by the other, or exterminated, or again enslaved.”

Like the Nazis, the defenders of slavery spoke of lebensraum.
Another 3000 word paean to the Freudian unconscious.
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Robin in 2007 in the LRB, on Hannah Arendt.
From its inception, Arendt argued, Zionism had exhibited some of the nastier features of European nationalism. Drawing ‘from German sources’, she wrote in 1946, Herzl presumed that the Jews constituted neither a religion nor a people but an ‘organic national body’ or race that could one day be housed ‘inside the closed walls of a biological entity’ or state. With its insistence on the eternal struggle between the Jews and their enemies, she wrote in the 1930s, the Zionist worldview seemed ‘to conform perfectly’ to that of ‘the National Socialists’.
As always he simplifies and confuses things. Unwilling to see things as entwined, he can't untangle. If the anti-imperialist Burke was adapted to serve imperialist ends, so was, and is, political liberalism. Capitalism is defended as promoting both stability and permanent revolution. Modern conservatives are economic liberals adapting the language of the old order, based on land, with the new order based on commerce. The Nazi camps and the gulag were modern and functioning bureaucracies.

Robin can make one argument or another, but he can't see through irony.
He's anti-psychological in the manner of Chomsky. He needs to see both himself and his opponents as rational and other than the product of a history and culture. He's written on Zionism on his blog, if only after prodding. And both the links shown were to comments by me.  And again that image proves my point.

On Arendt:
Zionism left the Palestinians with no options other than emigration or ‘transfer’, which could be accomplished only using Fascist methods, or second-class status in the land of their birth.
Israel is devolving into fascism. Religious fundamentalists are puritan. Fascists and puritans can work together but they are not synonymous. Bureaucrats can work for either without qualm.  Arendt's focus on psychology was not a "mistake".  A terror of determinism only strengthens its hold.
AA links to WaPo
"Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi poses a quandary for the Obama administration as it struggles to respond to the democratically elected Islamist leader’s power grab -- which he made without any advance notice to Washington."

Monday, November 26, 2012

I posted this a few days ago
Israel is also threatening Mr. Abbas, even hinting that it may give up on him, as he prepares to go to the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 29 to try to upgrade the Palestinian status to that of a nonmember state. The Israelis consider this step an act of aggression…
It bothers me that I didn't understand immediately the significance of the last sentence.  It doesn't shock me; people aren't that smart.

The sentence explains resistance and what's resisted. It explains Fatah and Hamas. It explains Munich, 1972. It explains homemade rockets and suicide bombings. It's obvious and always has been. That it hasn't appeared obvious to so many people for so long is not confirmation of my right to moralize.  We see only what we allow ourselves to see.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Maneker: "If You Hate the Art Market, Do You Cheer Hirst’s Decline?"
This BusinessWeek feature on Damien Hirst’s market collapse is very compelling for the way it confounds so much of the complaining about the art market that came out in response to $1bn+ in Contemporary art sold last week. To recap, we’re told that the vulgar market and its hood-winked vulgar participants spend their vulgar money on work that’s been expertly hyped. 
And yet here we have the financial decline of Hirst’s market. Hirst is one of the most relentlessly hyped artists. He had a huge retrospective at one of the world’s most prestigious museums of Contemporary art this year to coincide with one of the world’s most visible events, the Olympics. He also had an unprecedented show at the world’s most powerful and influential gallery that was slavishly covered by every outlet in the art (and general) media.
The general public responded to the Hirst retrospective in record numbers. In terms of popularity, he remains the most famous living artist in the world. His buyers, however, were not impressed with the show spot paintings (perhaps that’s because the show revealed the entire project to be less interesting than first inklings.) 
Is this a measure of the wisdom or stupidity of the art market?

Whether Damien Hirst is a lasting or important artist is anyone’s guess. That’s not a statement of bemusement. The nature of art history prevents any judgment made now from being anything more than opinion. Given the vitriol directed at those who have a position in trendy artists, one might think the 30% decline in Hirst’s overall market documented in the BusinessWeek story (and greater losses individual works) would have someone like Alberto Mugrabi—who comes out here about his market-making position in Hirst and his family’s owning 100 works—in a panic.
Instead, Andrew Rice shows a sanguine Mugrabi discussing one of the works on offer at Sotheby’s last week:
Mugrabi pulls up the auction listing for Sanctimony on the Sotheby’s website. “This painting at the height of the market would have been $3.5 or $4 million,” he says. Sotheby’s estimates it will sell for $1.2 million to $1.8 million—a tempting price. “People are very funny, because they like buying things when they’re expensive,” Mugrabi says. “They don’t like buying things when they’re inexpensive. All of a sudden, they can buy the art for the same price as it was 15 years ago, but now they don’t want to do it.”
...
Comments:
Felix Salmon:
I, for one, don’t feel the slightest bit confounded. Quite the opposite: I feel vindicated. If I do say so myself, this was a spot-on art-market call:
link

Marion Maneker:
Thank you for proving my point, Felix.
You, Thornton, Gopnik, Hickey and Saltz all say the market should be ignored but when it seems to side with you suddenly it has validity.
The very fact that you want to brag about a commonplace “market call” contradicts everything you’ve recently written about the art market.
My comment didn't make it.  Bits of it are below.

Most cultural hierarchies and markets have little foundation other than opinions over time; the more complex the society the more complex the form. At some point if any object/action/event becomes sufficiently embedded in the common language it becomes and remains a visible part of that larger self-supporting entity: it lasts. That's how silly cults become great religions. Bankers, ugly buildings and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.  The bell renamed the "Liberty Bell" is part of a tradition, without that its just a bell, an object, like Duchamp's urinal and Proust's madeleine.

Individual minds sometimes create complexity. Great buildings no more or less than great philosophies are the product of great minds. People don't go to the Frick to look at John C. Johansen's portrait of Frick, and any oligarch or curator would be called eccentric who decided to build a collection around portraits of Philip IV. Unfortunately we live in a culture where economists (and economic writers) and other social scientists, descending from philosophers, are contemptuous of poetry, as fluff or worse, "an enemy of the people", as if Aristophanes were more dangerous than Plato.  George Scialabba's defense of Shaw over Shakespeare rests not on art but petty moralism. Shaw's argument is a Soviet Socialist Realist attack on entartete Kunst
… Search [in Shakespeare] for statesmanship, or even citizenship, or any sense of the commonwealth, material or spiritual, and you will not find the making of a decent vestryman or curate in the whole horde. As to faith, hope, courage, conviction, or any of the true heroic qualities, you find nothing but death made sensational, despair made stage-sublime, sex made romantic, and barrenness covered up by sentimentality and the mechanical lilt of blank verse.
Scialabba's argument is frankly reactionary.
There was nothing vital at stake, at least as represented by Shakespeare, in the quarrels between English Catholics and Protestants: they were simply religious factional squabbles, with political prizes at stake rather than profound moral or metaphysical differences. The Hebrew prophets and the Puritans were — even if one rejects their beliefs and ideals — moral and religious geniuses and heroes. Shakespeare’s protagonists may have been brave or loyal or in other ways virtuous, but they are all the servants of paltry, utterly conventional purposes, because Shakespeare (or Bacon) was a fine dramatic craftsman and very clever wordsmith, but no more than that.
Velazquez left us a compelling record of the decline of absolutism and the various philosophies that supported it. I'm not going to lecture him in his absence on his lack of concern for the Amerindians and Dutch.

From the comment:
"Felix Salmon is a finance writer; the others you mention are art critics [I forgot the idiot Thornton] and they seem to have agreed that if anyone bought Hirst it was best to buy to flip. You can ride a bubble if you read one; Dean Baker wouldn't disagree. Your response is the equivalent of arguing that the crash of 1929 is proof of the long term stability of the market.

The contemporary art market is founded on irrational exuberance and play money for billionaires. The fights are toughest when the stakes are smallest. Hirst will last as a minor P.T. Barnum, a showman. He had a good ride. All bets are off if he handled his own investments badly. Don't get high on your own supply."

I posted a second shorter comment making two points:

1-As a former gallery owner said to me, it's not the the art is now worth more, it's that money is worth less.  However large the Mugrabis stake, it's not enough to cause them any real pain.

2-Lasting value in the culture at large no longer follows the tastes of the rich; this applies to discrete objects no less than reproducible commodities or performance. The viewing audience has more authority than the buying one.

As I've said to him before, Maneker, whatever he claims still wants to associate financial and cultural value.  He's a servant of power. Lindemann has the freedom to be honest, and is almost in spite of himself. Here's a rave review of an exhibition of film props and scenery.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Haaretz, linked by AA
A few days after Israel declared independence, its nascent air force bombed Gaza City. Five months later, on October 14, it did so again.
A week later, Ben-Gurion told the cabinet that Israel could take Gaza in two weeks, "and that's a big thing," but it had to accede to the United Nations demand for a cease-fire. Violating this demand, he feared, would lead to the loss of the Negev.
"Israel can live without Gaza," he told the cabinet on November 18. That was in response to Interior Minister Yitzhak Gruenbaum's complaint that Israel agreed to the lull in the south too quickly because with a little more time, Gaza would have fallen.
Had it not been for the cease-fire in the south, Ben-Gurion added, Israel wouldn't have been able to capture the Galilee. "The Galilee is worth as much as Gaza," he declared.
Nevertheless, he wanted Gaza, too. And in December 1948, he ordered one of his top generals, Yigal Allon, to take it. Until his dying day, Allon believed that had he just been given a few more days, he could have captured Gaza City.
repeats, of repeats, of repeats
His full name is Samuel Allon Marshall. We gave him the middle name Allon after my father, Alan, who died unexpectedly in August. The name means 'Oak' in Hebrew. And it was also the name of Yigal Allon, after whom he is also named, who was one of the founders of and later the commander of the Palmach, the elite commando unit of the Haganah, the predecessor of the IDF.
NOVEMBER 18, 2012, 9:45 AM
Today at TPMPrime we’re discussing this: what do you consider the most accurate, most balanced sources of information on the present conflict in Israel-Palestine and the issue in general?
George Bellows at the Met.

Roberta Smith
The Bellows conjured in the Met show comes across as a talented and ambitious yet complacent artist, earnest and hard-working but often remote, an artist who frequently failed to work from that crucial point where criticality and desperation forge ambition and skill into something indelibly personal and expandable. He once said, “A work of art can be any imaginable thing, and this is the beginning of modern painting.” And yet his own art rarely questions the accepted conventions of his time.

But whether this exhibition does Bellows’s achievement justice is a good question, and easier to answer than usual: the catalogue raisonné of Bellows’s paintings is available online. (It was assembled by Glenn C. Peck, who contributes an essay to the catalog.)

Perusing the nearly 700 paintings reproduced on the site reveals that the show ignores all but four of the hundreds of increasingly visionary plein air oil panels of rocky coasts, landscapes and ramshackle farms that Bellows painted from 1911 on, first in Maine and then in Woodstock, N.Y. (A wall text in the final gallery dismissively refers to the small Woodstock landscapes as “bucolic,” an underestimation.) There are also numerous larger works that might have improved the show, among them the National Academy Museum’s great Maine canvas, “Three Rollers” (1911).
Smith prizes the rough and earnest over the stylistically ambiguous. Bellows started as an illustrator; most illustrations are narrative and they're made as craft before art; the hierarchy is not only esthetic but moral.  But it only makes sense to see American art and illustration as related, as both relate to literature and specifically film as art and commerce. This applies no more or less to N.C. Wyeth and Winslow Homer than Lyonel Feininger. The clear antecedent for Kids (below) in its strength and limitations is Daumier, a great illustrator but a minor painter, and though she likes the painting she refers to Helen Levitt.  Three Rollers is a good painting but not a surprising one. More interesting to me is that one of the late landscapes reminds me of Hodgkin, visionary only by way by way of professional. The other rougher landscapes may seem more sincere but they're less interesting. They may stand for something but they don't stand out; there's less to learn.

Kids, 1906,  32"x42"

My House, Woodstock, 1924, 18" x 22


Other late works, take that "visionary" quality in another direction: a hybrid academic/illustrational surrealism now very familiar.

Fisherman's Family,  1923, 38.5" x 48 3/4"

Picnic, 1924, 30" x 40"


Neo Rauch,  Die Fuge,  2007,  300 x 420cm - 118" x 165" (approx)
Smith
Whatever Bellows was after, he pursued it restlessly, not just in his final canvases but through most of his busy and multifaceted, if truncated, career, and only rarely did he catch up with it. This is the ultimate message of “George Bellows,” an unnecessarily disappointing retrospective that has come to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the National Gallery in Washington. Organized by Charles Brock, an associate curator there, it contains some 70 oils and 30 works on paper. Still, there is a good chance you will emerge from it starving for truly alive art. I sure did.
It's an interesting show, worth seeing a few times.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Israel is also
threatening Mr. Abbas, even hinting that it may give up on him, as he prepares to go to the United Nations General Assembly on Nov. 29 to try to upgrade the Palestinian status to that of a nonmember state. The Israelis consider this step an act of aggression…
from AA
notes/various/posted (by me) elsewhere

@ DeLong  [once again he allows the comment, leaves it up for a week or more then removes it]
"Count me again as a vote after the fact for the Morgenthau plan, with the stipulation that the Rhineland would be ceded to the Jews. That alone might have almost made me a Zionist. The Conquest of Palestine certainly didn't." 
@ Corey Robin (with repeats)
“The ancients sought virtue, a life of excellence lived in and through the polis; the moderns (Machiavelli, Descartes, Bacon, Hobbes, and Locke) perpetrate ‘a lowering of aims.’ ”

True enough.
_Arguments for the nobility of greed are a recent development._

If, by “recent” you mean 1705, you may be right.
When Bertram realized he was responding to me, the original comment was removed. He forgot to remove his own. [he also removed my response, where I said yes, that's what I'd meant]

Liberals and modern conservatives are individualists; conservatives of the older tradition are not. They may recognize self-interest as a given but they do not defend it as a good.

It continues to amaze me that American liberal college professors (as “intellectuals”) read all the Continental crap while ignoring the core arguments: the mockery of liberal self-aggrendizement and the liberal celebration of self-interest. Conservatism gave us grandeur and barbarism, pessimism and vows of poverty. Liberalism gives us optimism and the earnest morality of greed. You do understand that Foucault is mocking democracy?

Bertram
“First, I’m sympathetic, I really am, to the idea that people should work and consume less and that we should attend more to real life quality. But this doesn’t seem very realistic in my own life for two reasons: first, even if my employer were sympathetic (unlikely) I feel very hard pressed now to produce the level of research output necessary for me to stay competitive with other academics (not just in the UK, but elsewhere). I suspect this generalizes to many people in professional jobs: we couldn’t achieve the kinds of things we want to in our careers on those kinds of hours.
Pathetic.
“I’d live the life of the mind, but then I couldn’t afford cable.”
another comment (and again with repeats)
That’s no necessary defense of Levin. I’m reading the piece now. As far as Burke is concerned I wonder what he’d say of Levin’s opinion as to the colonization of Palestine. And the AEI’s definition of capitalism is fundamentally medieval. Still…

Daniel Callahan: “the research imperative”
“Though unfamiliar to most scientists and the general public, the term expresses a cultural problem that caught my eye. It occurs in an article written by the late Protestant moral theologian Paul Ramsey in 1976 as part of a debate with a Jesuit theologian, Richard McCormick. McCormick argued that it ought to be morally acceptable to use children for nontherapeutic research, that is, for research with no direct benefit to the children themselves and in the absence of any informed consent. Referring to claims about the “necessity” of such research, Ramsey accused McCormick of falling prey to the “research imperative”, the view that the importance of research could overcome moral values.

That was the last time I heard of the phrase for many years, but it informs important arguments about research that have surfaces with increasing force of late. It captures, for instance, the essence of what Joshua Lederberg, a Nobel laureate for his work on genetics and president emeritus of Rockefeller University once remarked to me: “The blood of those who will die if biomedical research is not pursued will be upon the hands of those who don’t do it.”
War communism in the war on disease.

Modern conservatives are economic liberals; modern liberals defend social liberalism as measured by their own best intentions. Between Burke and Rawls I’d choose Burke. “Liberalism” and “Conservatism” are words floating in a sea of language, their meanings change over time and from place to place. Without a knowledge of history there’s no understanding of either. Decartes wrote “History is like foreign travel. It broadens the mind, but it does not deepen it.” Nietzsche’s professional title was not philosopher but philologist.

The only valid attack on liberalism from the standpoint of the old conservatism comes from the left. Better a Luddite than a Benthamite in the googleplex.

A contemporary Burkean quotes Oliver Wendell Holmes:
“His account of the Communists shows in the most extreme form what I came to loathe in the abolitionists–the conviction that anyone who did not agree with them was a knave or a fool. You see the same in some Catholics and some of the ‘Drys’ apropos of the 18th amendment. I detest a man who knows that he knows.”

That’s not the answer to John Brown, or Hamas, [no link in orig.] both of whom in retrospect seem necessary, though the latter has moderated as Israel has not. Zionists also know what they know, and they knew it first.

Life’s a bitch.
one more
"In an essay published in early 1879 called ‘The True Reason of Man’s Happiness’, al-Afghani denounced British claims to have civilized India by introducing such benefits of modernist as railways, canals and schools. In his defense of India, al-Afghani was ecumenical, praising Hindus as well as Muslims. Echoing Edmund Burke, who had asserted that Indians were people ‘for ages civilized and cultivated -cultivated by all the arts of polished life, whilst we were yet in the woods’, al-Afghani dismissively asked why the English ‘who suffered for long ages and wandered in wild and barbaric valleys’ should presume to speak of the ‘deficiency’ of the glorious ‘sons of Brahma and Mahadev, the founders of human sharias and establishers of civilized laws.’

Al-Afghani went on to argue that the British improved transport and communication in order to drain India’s wealth to England and facilitate trade for British merchants. Western style schools, he argued, were meant merely to turn Indians into English-speaking cogs of the British Administration.”

Pankaj Mishra, From the Ruins of Empire
ref. Nikki Keddie, Sayyid Jamāl ad-Dīn al-Afghani: A Political Biography.
To understand Brooks, this... 
is all you need to know.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Onion:  8-Year-Old Palestinian Boy Pleasantly Surprised He Hasn't Been Killed Yet

I've said it more than enough: comedians as a group are now more serious than academics.
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The Name of The Rose came out in english in 1983. Its themes were the end of scholasticism and the rise of humanism.
It was written to be topical.  So obvious, so fucking obvious.

Change is slow.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Monday 19 November 2012
On the flight between Burma and Cambodia, Ben Rhodes, the White House national security adviser, replying to a reporter's question about what the US strategy is, said: "Our position continues to be that those nations in the region, particularly nations that have influence over Hamas, and that's principally Egypt and Turkey, also Qatar … that those nations need to use that influence to de-escalate the conflict. And de-escalation has to begin with, again, an end to rocket fire from Gaza."
repeats and repeats and repeats and repeats and...

1 - 2008
"Well, they started squeezing Hamas almost immediately. Originally, in the weeks right after the late-January election, Hamas wanted to form a relatively moderate government that would include a large number of political "independents" under the leadership of Hamas's Ismail Haniyeh as Prime Minister. But as I know-- because I was the conduit of one of these threats-- threats of lethal violence were sent by the Israelis to any Palestinian "independents" who might be even considering joining a Haniyeh-led government. As a result, none of them did; and the government that Haniyeh ended up forming was 100% Hamas.

[HC in reply to a comment] I have written about it before. It was Ziad. The threat was conveyed to me by Ziad's and my mutual friend Ze'ev Schiff, a decent man who had been extremely close to successive generations of the leaders of Israel's security establishment for half a century before his death last year.

To be specific, when I spoke with Ze'ev on the phone before I went to Gaza in March 2006-- and he did help me to get in-- he asked if I was going to see Ziad, who was then widely reported to be considering an offer from Hamas to be Haniyeh's Foreign Minister (as he subsequently became, during the brief life of the 2007 national unity government.) I said yes. He said-- and he repeated this a couple of times to make sure I got the meaning clear-- that I should tell Ziad he would face "the worst possible consequences" if he joined the Haniyeh government, and that he said this "on good authority."

I did pass the message on to Ziad.

Ziad also faced considerable family-based pressure from the Americans since his three children from his first marriage were at college here in the US, and I suppose if he had joined the Haniyeh government and then tried to visit them here he could be arraigned on all kinds of charges of aiding and abetting terrorists. But Ze'ev's words about "the worst possible consequences" struck me as constituting a more severe and immediate threat.
2 - 2008
Regarding the Tahdiya [calm], Hacham said Barak stressed that while it was not permanent, for the time being it was holding. There have been a number of violations of the ceasefire on the Gaza side, but Palestinian factions other than Hamas were responsible. Hacham said the Israelis assess that Hamas is making a serious effort to convince the other factions not to launch rockets or mortars. Israel remains concerned by Hamas' ongoing efforts to use the Tahdiya to increase their strength, and at some point, military action will have to be put back on the table….
3 - 2010
Hamas in Gaza tried to ease tension with Israel and Egypt Tuesday, urging other Palestinians to stop firing rockets into the western Negev and promising Cairo answers over the shooting of an Egyptian soldier at the border.

Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Islamist movement's government in the coastal enclave, said other armed groups in the Gaza Strip should observe what has amounted to a ceasefire since Israel's major offensive a year ago. That, Haniyeh said, was in the interests of protecting Gazans from Israeli attacks.

On Monday, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak had warned Hamas to rein in its allies "or else" - a threat of more Israeli action.

Rocket fire by smaller groups Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committees, and Israeli air strikes that killed several Palestinians, made the past two weeks among the most violent since the three-week war that killed 13 Israelis and over 1,400 Palestinians before a ceasefire in mid-January 2009.
4 - 2011


5 - 2011

Issandr El Amrani at Arabist: "Please take 15m of your time and watch this excruciating video of last Thursday's State Dept. briefing."


Exchange with Matt Lee:
QUESTION: But do you see going to the UN as anathema to an approach in getting them – why can’t it be embraced as part of an approach to get them back to the table instead of being viewed as an enemy of getting them back to the table? 
MR. TONER: Well, Matt, again, what we’ve tried to be clear all along here is that our focus, and we believe the parties’ focus, should be in direct negotiations because it’s only by dealing with these issues through direct negotiations that they’re going to reach a settlement. So one-off actions in New York don’t accomplish anything at the end of the day. 
QUESTION: But why can’t you -- 
MR. TONER: We’re going to continue to work today, tomorrow, through New York to get the parties back to the negotiating table. But our position all along – I don’t know how it could be more clear – is that we think these -- 
QUESTION: It can’t be any more clear. I’m not asking you what your position is. 
MR. TONER: We think these -- 
QUESTION: I’m asking why you lack the creativity to use this as leverage to get them back to the negotiating table, instead of trying to fight a losing battle in which you’re going to be the only – you’re going to be isolated, the Israelis are going to be isolated, because if they go to the General Assembly, they’re going to win. 
MR. TONER: Precisely because -- 
QUESTION: So why don’t -- 
MR. TONER: -- because we think it’s -- 
QUESTION: Why isn’t there anyone in this Administration that has the brainpower, the creativity, to use this as a positive thing to build momentum instead of regarding it as completely a negative thing? 
MR. TONER: Because it’s counterproductive. 
QUESTION: Well -- QUESTION: But that’s -- 
QUESTION: Why is it – it’s counterproductive to you. To the Palestinians, it gives them some kind of hope, some kind of confidence, that when they do sit down – let me finish – when they do sit down at the negotiating table, that they have more leverage than some kind of nonentity that they’re treated as now.
6 -  Daily Press Briefing: July 3, 2012

Video at the link is queued up to this exchange: The questioner is Matt Lee.
*MS. NULAND:*  We have no reason to believe that it [Human Rights Watch report on Syria] is not credible. It’s based on eyewitness accounts, and they’re reporting from a broad cross-section of human rights figures inside Syria. 
*QUESTION:*  So the next time Human Rights Watch comes out with a report that’s critical of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians, I’ll assume that you’re going to be saying the same thing, correct; that you think that the report is credible, it’s based on eyewitness accounts? 
*MS. NULAND:* As -- 
*QUESTION:* And you’re not going to say that it’s politically motivated and should be dismissed? 
*MS. NULAND: * Matt, as you have made clear again and again in this room, we are not always consistent. 
*QUESTION:* So, in other words, anything that Human Rights Watch says that is critical of someone you don’t like, that’s okay; but once they criticize someone that you do like, then it’s not worth the paper it’s printed on?
*MS. NULAND:*  Matt, I’m not going to get into colloquy on this one.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

"Palestinian statehood wins European backing: A majority of Europeans want their governments to vote for Palestinian recognition at the UN, latest polls reveal"

"Clashes in West Bank as anger over Gaza is directed at Mahmoud Abbas"

"Four Gazan children killed in single Israeli air strike as assault intensifies"

"U.S. Fears a Ground War in Gaza Could Hurt Israel and Help Hamas"

"'Jonathan, before you go, you know, any thoughts on what’s going on over in Israel and Gaza at the moment?'  Lord Sacks sighed, before replying: 'I think it has got to do with Iran, actually.'”

Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Israel's operation in Gaza: "The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages. Only then will Israel be calm for forty years."

"Haaretz poll: More than 90 percent of Israeli Jews support Gaza war
At the same time, however, only 30 percent of the public supports a ground attack in Gaza."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Just heard Danny Boy sung in Arabic.  At an Irish bar on the UES.
A benefit for people in Staten Island and the Rockaways.
Earlier in the day ran into the owner of a bar I drink in. Irish ex-cop. He said I'd be needed elsewhere soon.  I said I'd never go.  He told me the images of dead children on TV meant the end of the Vietnam war. 
I said this time the father was with the BBC.
Look at who's talking about Gaza and who's not.

Enthusiasm is not the answer to passivity, but the professors of philosophical austerity are acting now more out of cowardice than -brittle- reason. They're less beyond politics than politics is beyond them.  Mocking American conservatives for ignoring the polling numbers in American elections will not make up for the failures of American liberal intellectuals or of political or social "science".

Change is led by those with skin in the game, not by the soi-disant enlightened.
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Idiots with time to waste. Read the awful Belle Waring and DD in the context of both [engagement and enlightenment]  here and here.
On the south go here; on race as always, here
Everything's a fucking repeat.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gaza Timeline, at Mondoweiss, with a link to Zvi Bar'el in Haaretz:  Escalation is good for Israel
Hamas' continued preference for diplomatic action in the face of Israel's attacks on Gaza is less than convenient for those who desire an Israeli strike on Iran.
Lobelog: Jasmine Ramsey links to Haaretz
Hours before Hamas strongman Ahmed Jabari was assassinated, he received the draft of a permanent truce agreement with Israel, which included mechanisms for maintaining the cease-fire in the case of a flare-up between Israel and the factions in the Gaza Strip. This, according to Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin, who helped mediate between Israel and Hamas in the deal to release Gilad Shalit and has since then maintained a relationship with Hamas leaders.

Baskin told Haaretz on Thursday that senior officials in Israel knew about his contacts with Hamas and Egyptian intelligence aimed at formulating the permanent truce, but nevertheless approved the assassination.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Send in the drones
Don't bother - they're here.

Sunday, November 04, 2012


I am here by Sun Yuan and Peng Yu.

In the expedition "Wanderlust", at  Sotheby's
It's not in the catalogue, and the legal department, either under pressure or out of nervousness, removed the gun from the display. It's illegal to sell realistic toy guns in NY.

Here's the same piece at Artnet and at The Hammer, with the gun included
The clothes are different. Maybe the kaffiyeh was too specifically Arab or Palestinian.
Art comes out of art; if any artist doesn’t admit to that, it doesn’t ring true...
John Baldessari
Amazing in retrospect how so many people once believed that.
See the previous post.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

The first bit, from Oct. 7th, moved to the front

John Baldessari Man and Woman with Bridge, 1984
There's one early photograph by Gursky that I've always thought encapsulated his interests, concerns, questions, dilemmas. Everything since seems to ascend or descend from it: it describes both the works he's made and the road not taken. When I saw the piece above a few months ago, though it's not an early one, I thought it does something similar for Baldessari. [update: the Gursky now here, in a related discussion of Kubrick]
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Baldessari at Goodman, October 19-Nov 21

There's a lot to say about this show, about what it is and what it describes about historical change. It returns us the the late 19th century and the confusion of formalism and philosophy (idealist, atemporal, concerned with "truth"), and description and narrative (fictions and poetry and "lies"), that marked the Parisian avant-garde. It encapsulates the contemporary return almost perfectly.  It makes no more than a nod towards conceptual irony, which was never more than a specifically arch form of negation, before going on (and back) to Mallarmé and Lautréamont .

From Paris to NY to LA, from 1890 to 1940 to 1970, from ambiguity and modernity to idealist pretension (and Modern-ism) to the insecurity of self-consciously serious people in the world of the dream factory. Baldessari was the teacher and mentor to the pictures generation, children less of Marx and Coca-Cola than of Clement Greenberg and Barbie, in lines that stretch back through Adorno and Hollywood to P.T. Barnum, Poe, Hawthorne and the Puritans.

American Modernism, as idea and ideology, like all American philosophy begins in moralism.  It would be hard to describe the sense, in the late 70's and 80's in the culture of American contemporary art, or at least the institutional avant-garde of the New York, of the common association of illusionistic pictorial space (finite as opposed to infinite), with laziness. It's hard to describe the sense of the moral imperative of the material, as truth. California conceptualism embraced the puerile as rebellion and the rebellion of the puerile.  It was always academic in its anti-academicism, the product of art schools in the land of billboards, sand, and sun. As Jonathan Borofsky noted, Baldessari would always tell his students to get out of the studio, but if wasn't in class he never left it.

The first piece above is an easy read. It's collage as figurative art, as montage, and it's not subtle: the central element telegraphs the relation between the characters. It's derivative of filmic narrative without trying to undermine or escape it, which is why it's almost one of a kind in Baldessari's art. He's called himself a "closet" formalist, as someone from southern California of his generation would have to be. (The term is freighted, though no one asks why he would use it.)  This piece has none of that struggle.  The form is used practically if too simply to show an event. It's illustration: less worried over, less conflicted, less pretentious, but also less interesting than the work he's known for.

The new work is something else again. It's clear that Baldessari has found a way in some of the pieces less to come out of the closet (formalism itself is void) than to join design (disegno), imagery, and language with the sort of casual absurdism found here. Retiring from teaching may have helped; the new work is much less academic. Whether he'd want to admit it or not, he's matured.

If fact he won't admit it. From the press release: "As the artist says, 'Art comes out of art; if any artist doesn’t admit to that, it doesn’t ring true…'" In his mind, still Greenbergian conceptualism.
In the acknowledgements of her intellectual biography of Clement Greenberg, aptly titled Eyesight Alone: Clement Greenberg’s Modernism and the Bureaucratization of the Senses, Caroline A. Jones thanks Benjamin Buchloh, historian, critic, and theoretician of left-wing high seriousness in contemporary art, for his “stimulating aperçu regarding the ‘administrative sensibility’ of post-Greenbergian conceptual art.” It’s left at that. [p.51 PDF]
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rather than just link to related posts, I'll repeat them.


"It starts out as just another one of those delightful bits of perverse fake lip-reading… but then, a little past the 2 minute mark, it turns into something much, much greater."

"Eye of the Sparrow" For some reason embedding is now blocked for the video. The link slips over to debate highlights. [that seems to have been fixed] The one posted is still available here

Baldessari was born in 1931. Richard Serra was born in 1939.

Richard Serra, Untitled, 1972, Charcoal on paper, 29 3/4 x 41 1/2 in. The Metropolitan Museum, New York
There's something very interesting about this drawing. When it was made, and why.

"Philosophy opposes fiction, and theories of modern art opposed the "fiction" of pictorialism. The implications of that preference are unexamined."
Look at the shape. How it appears flat and then seems to recede. The beginnings of a return to pictorial art: affirmed/denied/affirmed


Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective

Friday, November 02, 2012

"The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy"
They were a diverse group. Some were young people in their twenties. Others were middle-aged Americans who had never landed white-collar jobs. Most were immigrants.
As if immigrants could not be Americans and native born Americans are white collar by default.

Land (verb)
1 [ with obj. ] put (someone or something) on land from a boat: the lifeboat landed the survivors safely ashore.
• [ no obj. ] go ashore; disembark: the marines landed at a small fishing jetty.
• bring (a fish) to land, esp. with a net or hook: I landed a scrappy three-pound walleye.
informal succeed in obtaining or achieving (something desirable), esp. in the face of strong competition: she landed the starring role in a new film.
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More comments at The Monkey Cage

Thursday, November 01, 2012


I found the top image of Diane Feinstein at Drudge's site. I doubt it was chosen as a reference, at least consciously, but who knows?

From the past. I want to give Cartier-Bresson the credit, but again there's no way to know.