Tuesday, February 28, 2017

updated

Mehdi Hasan tweets Shadi Hamid.
Hamid's piece is contradictory, as if it had been rewritten and someone forgot to remove a paragraph.
As Mother Jones’s Kevin Drum has argued, the very fact that the race had become so charged was “ridiculous,” since Perez and Ellison are “about equally progressive.” Or as his colleague David Corn wrote: “There’s truly not much ideological distance between the two. They are both grassroots-minded progressives.” 
Perez, whatever his positions, was encouraged to run against Ellison by the Obama White House, with Obama’s top aide Valerie Jarrett whipping votes and telling Democratic National Committee members “I’ll let the president know you’re with Tom.” This happened after [accent in original] Ellison had already established himself as the early front-runner, with strong union support and the endorsement of figures like Senator Chuck Schumer. The left flank was looking for evidence that it would be fully accepted and incorporated in a party that was known for neutralizing and ignoring its base. Instead, the Democratic “establishment”—is there anyone more establishment than the president?—worked to undermine the candidate of the party’s left.

After Hillary Clinton’s election defeat, liberal commentators have, by and large, done what makes the most sense for a center-left technocratic party: sought refuge in facts and empirical reality (against someone who clearly values neither). Facts are obviously good and necessary, but they don’t make a strategy. Moreover, focusing on empirical data creates incentives to downplay the role of emotion and feeling in politics. These are, after all, the things that are difficult to measure and fall out outside the scope of “rational” action.

The race for DNC chair took place after eight years, under Obama’s presidency, in which Democrats were decimated on the local and state levels and lost the presidency to arguably the most unqualified presidential candidate in the history of the nation. If you looked hard enough, of course, you could probably find a way to argue that Barack Obama’s ideas or even his style of governing had absolutely nothing to do with the sorry state of the Democratic Party. As Matthew Yglesias of Vox put it rather succinctly: “It’s structural.” You could similarly make an argument that there was simply no lesson to learn from Clinton’s defeat. After all, she “outperformed the econometric models.”

...Keith Ellison may be about as progressive as Tom Perez, but it’s what he represents that matters. It’s what he evokes and inspires, for both better and worse, and that’s not something you can quantify in a chart or plot on a graph. It’s definitely not something you can measure, and you shouldn’t have to.
Zaid Jilani
Perez was widely perceived as being brought into the race by allies of President Obama, former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and other members of the party establishment. One of the speakers who introduced his nomination, South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Jaime Harrison, also works as a corporate lobbyist for the D.C.-based Podesta Group. After neither candidate reached a majority of votes in the first round of voting, Harrison was on the floor, whipping votes for Perez.

...Haim Saban, the entertainment tycoon who is one of the Democratic Party’s largest donors, called Ellison both “anti-Israel” and anti-Semitic. The Anti-Defamation League called on Democrats to reject him. On the eve of the vote, prominent Democrat Alan Dershowitz proclaimed that he would leave the party if Ellison were elected chair; Jack Rosen, who leads the American Jewish Congress, emailed DNC members the day before the vote decrying Ellison’s views on the Middle East, concluding that he threatened the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Perez, on the other hand, courted pro-Israel activists during the course of the contest.
Hasan is the UK equivalent of Jamelle Bouie and the other buppie neoliberals who backed Clinton. Hamid is an idiot. It's interesting that they would follow that logic to the point of being -perhaps in Hamid's case, struggling to be- oblivious to the reasons for the late entrance of Perez.
New tags for Brexit and Trump

Sunday, February 26, 2017


More absurdity, confusion. See Pistorius, and Dolezal
High school athlete Mack Beggs, a teenager who is transitioning from female to male, won his 110-pound weight class in the Texas girl's state championship on Saturday, according to media reports.

Beggs, 17, and many of his opponents want him to wrestle against boys, but the transgender boy wrestled in the Texas championship for girls because of state sport regulations, which require athletes to compete according to birth gender.

The wrestler, a junior at Trinity High School in the Dallas suburb of Euless, had a 52-0 record ahead of the weekend tournament and was favored to win the 110-pound weight class in the championship.

On Saturday, he beat Chelsea Sanchez 12-2 to earn the championship.

In some of his first media comments since the story was widely reported, Beggs said "I wouldn't be here today if it weren't for my teammates," the Dallas Morning News reported on its website.

"That's honestly what the spotlight should've been on, my teammates," he added.

Beggs' family has sought to have him wrestle as a boy, and some of his opponents have said he has an unfair advantage among girls because of the testosterone he is taking as a part of his transition.

The University Interscholastic League, which governs school sports in Texas, said that the state's education code allows the use of a banned drug such as steroids if it "is prescribed by a medical practitioner for a valid medical purpose."

About a week ago, Beggs won a regional championship after a female wrestler from a Dallas-area high school forfeited the final.

The parent of another girl who wrestles for the same Dallas-area high school had filed a lawsuit trying to block Beggs, saying his use of testosterone increases his strength, which could pose a risk to opponents.

Nancy Beggs, Mack Beggs' grandmother and guardian, told the Dallas Morning News after the forfeit in the regional championship match: "Today was not about their students winning. Today was about bias, hatred and ignorance."

According to transathlete.com, which provides information for transgender athletes, Texas is one of seven U.S. states with policies it sees as discriminatory against transgender athletes.

Lou Weaver, who runs transgender programs for the LGBT rights group Equality Texas, said Beggs is abiding by current state rules, which need to be updated, "so that guys like Mack can wrestle with their peers, which would be on the boys' team."

Monday, February 20, 2017

in re: Milo


The film has scenes with boys in Morocco. The scenes are bucolic the implications are obvious. No one complained at the time. The film was written by Alan Bennett and it's based on Lahr's Biography, which is explicit. And of course the diaries, which Lahr later edited.
We were hailed with 'Hallo' from a very beautiful 16 year old boy whom I knew but had never had) from lest year. Kenneth wanted him. We talked for about five minutes and finally I said. 'Come to our apartment for tea this afternoon.' He was very eager. We arranged that he should meet us at the Windmill beach place. As we left the boy Kenneth said, Wasn't I good at arranging things?' This astounded me. 'I arranged it; I said You would have been standing talking about the weather for ever.' K didn't reply... (9 May 1967)
Milo is a self-hating homosexual and political reactionary in a long line of self-hating homosexuals and political reactionaries, and also a long line of comedians. His is a form of reactionary honesty, in the face of a bourgeois moralism and hypocrisy. It's the reactionary honesty of de Sade and Houellebecq, of Rock and Roll and High Fashion, the ghosts of monarchist freedom and libertines that earnest liberals celebrate without knowing what they're celebrating. And that cluelessness applies to academia as well.  If I say that Foucault obviously was an arch conservative from an arch conservative tradition, the response is confusion.

A girl I knew in 9th grade had an affair with our English teacher. She pretty much destroyed him.
Another English teacher at the school married one of his ex-students, the year after she graduated from Yale.

The couples below are Verlaine and Rimbaud, and Isherwood and Bachardy. The image on the right is annoyingly perverse, to me at least. The older one isn't.


I searched the blog for a reference and found this, which wasn't what I was looking for but it made me laugh. Looking elsewhere I still didn't find what I was looking for but found this.
“Germany cannot be what she used to be, because there are not enough Jewish people. My mother always said there was some sparkle only the Jewish culture could bring. Germany without Jews is a boring, materialistic country.”
I should add a tag for fashion.

update, appropriately enough, from Artnet:
The ‘Twinks4Trump’ Guy, Who Organized a Pro-Trump Art Show, Is Now a White House Correspondent.
"His initial claim to fame was a photo series showing shirtless young men in "Make America Great Again" baseball hats."
See also Richard Spencer and Caravaggio.

repeats: The relation of art and fascism.

Gombrich
There could be no more poignant contrast to this confidence in the spells of art [in the perceptual "objectivity" of hieroglyphs] than a passage from Plato's older contemporary Euripides that also deals with tomb sculpture. When Alcestis is going to die, her grieving husband Admetus speaks of the work he will commission for his solace:

And represented by the skillfull hands
Of craftsmen, on the bed thy body shall
Be laid; whereon I shall fall in embrace
And clasp my hands around it, call thy name,
And fancy in my arms my darling wife
To hold, holding her not; perhaps, I grant,
Illusory delight, yet my soul's burden
Thus shall I lighten...


What Ademtus seeks is not a spell, not even assurance, only a dream for those who are awake; in other words, precisely that state of mind to which Plato, the stern seeker after truth, objected.
Plato, we know, looked back with nostalgia at the immobile schemata of Egyptian art.

Gombrich, Art and Illusion, p.126
"I want the illusion.
Do you want the illusion or do you want the illusion to be real?
What’s the difference?
One means that you have an appreciation of the arts. The other means that you’re a fascist."

We tell ourselves stories in order to live.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Againagainagainagainagainagainagainagainagainagainagainagain

Updated

All politics is schoolyard politics

"Serious" liberals, library kids, and earnest or soi-disant radicals don't understand the schoolyard, even when their enemies, the bullies, are being laughed at by the peasants, the unwashed bourgeois masses, the mediocre majority. The elite and vanguard are scratching their heads in confusion.

Laurence Tribe, before today's debacle: "How Trump uses sleight-of-hand to dazzle, dodge, and distract"

Sam Husseini, after: "There's a deranged symbiotic relationship between Trump and the (rest) of the (media) establishment."

2/17. Jason Stanley recommended this absurdity:  Analysis: Trump is a master of language

Ari Melber: "The independent press are referees. The action is always on the field. Donald Trump wants to make the whole season about the refs."

There are no refs. Journalists are advocates, ambulance chasers. It's a vulgar job and needs to be. I repeat it all too much.

Meanwhile back on the ground...
Reuters: "'I'm not ranting and raving.' Trump on defensive in first solo news conference"

Politico: Trump decided Thurs AM to do press conference, told aides he wanted to speak unfiltered, seize back narrative
After stewing in anger during four rocky weeks in the White House, President Donald Trump had his say Thursday.

He spent 80 minutes in an impromptu East Room news conference shredding his critics, relitigating the election, bragging about his crowds, crowing about his accomplishments and denying, deflecting and obfuscating a series of mushrooming bad stories that have dogged his presidency and depressed his approval ratings.

It was an extraordinary scene in the White House, which Trump essentially turned into a venue for a campaign rally, trashed the country's most influential news outlets, cited approval polls and spread misinformation. It came two days before Trump will hit the road for a campaign rally in Florida, where he said the crowds would be "massive."
Fox
Jeremy Scahill takes his ball and goes home: "Why I will not appear this week on Real Time with Bill Maher." He's been on the show before and defends Maher, but somehow this time it's about his own integrity and not the opportunity to tear Milo Yiannopoulos a new one. Integrity, cowardice, "moral grandstanding"?  Scahill has the luxury of walking away.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

In the end it all dovetails. Everything I've watched for 40 years: curdled idealism and mannerist fragility; engineers' anti-humanism; academic theorizing and the celebration of autistic reason; preadolescent sexuality in adolescence and adulthood, from Weininger to Scott Aaronson.

"People say that Andy said he was a machine. But he didn't. He said he wanted to be a machine and that's not the same thing at all."

The world is just a barrel-organ which the Lord God turns Himself.
We all have to dance to the tune which is already on the drum.

Living in a silent film...

The explicitly left slides into the explicitly right. A hundred years ago they understood.
"...he told me that even if he were to give me an answer, I would not understand it."

Fascism is a symptom and a sensibility. Vanguardism is romantic pedantry in modernity.

1
White House chief strategist Steve Bannon has been in contact via intermediaries with Curtis Yarvin, Politico Magazine reported this week. Yarvin, a software engineer and blogger, writes under the name Mencius Moldbug. His anti-egalitarian arguments have formed the basis for a movement called “neoreaction.”

The main thrust of Yarvin’s thinking is that democracy is a bust; rule by the people doesn’t work, and doesn’t lead to good governance. He has described it as an “ineffective and destructive” form of government, which he associates with “war, tyranny, destruction and poverty.” Yarvin’s ideas, along with those of the English philosopher Nick Land, have provided a structure of political theory for parts of the white-nationalist movement calling itself the alt-right. The alt-right can be seen as a political movement; neoreaction, which adherents refer to as NRx, is a philosophy. At the core of that philosophy is a rejection of democracy and an embrace of autocratic rule.
2
The first weeks of the Trump presidency have brought as much focus on the White House’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, as on the new president himself. But if Bannon has been the driving force behind the frenzy of activity in the White House, less attention has been paid to the network of political philosophers who have shaped his thinking and who now enjoy a direct line to the White House.

They are not mainstream thinkers, but their writings help to explain the commotion that has defined the Trump administration’s early days. They include a Lebanese-American author known for his theories about hard-to-predict events; an obscure Silicon Valley computer scientist whose online political tracts herald a “Dark Enlightenment”; and a former Wall Street executive who urged Donald Trump’s election in anonymous manifestos by likening the trajectory of the country to that of a hijacked airplane—and who now works for the National Security Council.

Bannon, described by one associate as “the most well-read person in Washington,” is known for recommending books to colleagues and friends, according to multiple people who have worked alongside him. He is a voracious reader who devours works of history and political theory “in like an hour,” said a former associate whom Bannon urged to read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. “He’s like the Rain Man of nationalism.”
3
Land was our Nietzsche – with the same baiting of the so-called progressive tendencies, the same bizarre mixture of the reactionary and the futuristic, and a writing style that updates nineteenth century aphorisms into what Kodwo Eshun called “text at sample velocity.” Speed— in the abstract and the chemical sense— was crucial here: telegraphic tech-punk provocations replacing the conspicuous cogitation of so much post-structuralist continentalism, with its implication that the more laborious and agonised the writing, the more thought must be going on.

Whatever the merits of Land’s other theoretical provocations (and I’ll suggest some serious problems with them presently), Land’s withering assaults on the academic left - or the embourgeoisified state-subsidised grumbling that so often calls itself academic Marxism – remain trenchant. The unwritten rule of these “careerist sandbaggers” is that no one seriously expects any renunciation of bourgeois subjectivity to ever happen. Pass the Merlot, I’ve got a career’s worth of quibbling critique to get through. So we see a ruthless protection of petit bourgeois interests dressed up as politics. Papers about antagonism, then all off to the pub afterwards. Instead of this, Land took earnestly—to the point of psychosis and auto-induced schizophrenia—the Spinozist-Nietzschean-Marxist injunction that a theory should not be taken seriously if it remains at the level of representation.

What, then, is Land’s philosophy about?

In a nutshell: Deleuze and Guattari’s machinic desire remorselessly stripped of all Bergsonian vitalism, and made backwards-compatiblewith Freud’s death drive and Schopenhauer’s Will. The Hegelian-Marxist motor of history is then transplanted into this pulsional nihilism: the idiotic autonomic Will no longer circulating idiotically on the spot, but upgraded into a drive, and guided by a quasi-teleological artificial intelligence attractor that draws terrestrial history over a series of intensive thresholds that have no eschatological point of consummation, and that reach empirical termination only contingently if and when its material substrate burns out. This is Hegelian-Marxist historical materialism inverted: Capital will not be ultimately unmasked as exploited labour power; rather, humans are the meat puppet of Capital, their identities and self-understandings are simulations that can and will be ultimately be sloughed off.
4
This summer, I seriously considered withdrawing from any involvement in politics. Exhausted through overwork, incapable of productive activity, I found myself drifting through social networks, feeling my depression and exhaustion increasing.

‘Left-wing’ Twitter can often be a miserable, dispiriting zone. Earlier this year, there were some high-profile twitterstorms, in which particular left-identifying figures were ‘called out’ and condemned. What these figures had said was sometimes objectionable; but nevertheless, the way in which they were personally vilified and hounded left a horrible residue: the stench of bad conscience and witch-hunting moralism. The reason I didn’t speak out on any of these incidents, I’m ashamed to say, was fear. The bullies were in another part of the playground. I didn’t want to attract their attention to me.
5
Last week the writer Mark Fisher took his own life. His on/off struggle with depression was something he wrote about with courageous candour in articles and in his landmark book Capitalist Realism: is There No Alternative? Fisher argued that the pandemic of mental anguish that afflicts our time cannot be properly understood, or healed, if viewed as a private problem suffered by damaged individuals. Rather, it was the symptom of a heartless and hopeless politics: precarious employment and flexible work patterns, the erosion of class solidarity and its institutions such as unions, and the relentless message from mainstream political parties and media alike that “there is no alternative” to managerial capitalism. That this is as good as it gets – so deal with it.

Finally the depression that Fisher, 48, had dissected acutely and fought against doggedly got the better of him. He left behind a wife and young son, a close-knit network of friends, allies, colleagues and students, and an ever-widening readership, all of whom were waiting always to hear what he had to say next.
6
Mark Fisher memorial fund launched in wake of music writer’s death 
The collection has been set up to raise money for Mark’s wife, Zoë and his young son, George.

A memorial fund for Mark Fisher, the influential music writer and theorist who died last Friday (January 13), has been launched by a group of his colleagues, comrades and friends.

Fisher, who contributed regularly to FACT in the magazine’s early years, used his K-Punk blog as a platform for examining mainstream and underground music from a cultural theorist’s perspective. In 2009, he published Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?, on Zero books was also a founder member of Warwick University’s Cybernetic Culture Research Unit.

The collection has been set up to raise money for Mark’s wife, Zoë and his young son, George, “in the hope that it will allow them space to grieve and come to terms with their loss, and reduce the number of things they have to deal with at this devastating time.”

You can donate to the memorial fund via YouCaring.

Musicians, writers, theorists and colleagues have been paying tribute in the days since his death, with Fisher’s friend and comrade Simon Reynolds describing him as “a cult figure,” and “the most original and provocative writer about popular culture – and its interface with the political – of the last fifteen years.”

Owen Hatherley, whose book – Militant Modernism – came out on Zero Books in 2009, recalled his “last happy memory” of Fisher at a Zero Books event in Zagreb around five years ago, while music writer David Stubbs, writing for The Quietus, called Fisher’s Capitalist Realism “his most vital text,” and “among the most vital political texts of the 21st century.”

Music writer Adam Harper, whose blog Rouge’s Foam was inspired by K-Punk, recalled the first time he met Fisher in 2010, writing: “Mark isn’t just the figure behind every significant thing I’ve done as a critic. His theory is now deeply embedded in who I am and what I say.”

Verso author Juliet Jacques called Fisher “a rare example of a popular British academic,” on the Verso blog, urging readers to return to Mark’s work.

Read next: Mark Fisher on The Pop Group’s enduring radicalism
A wasted life dedicated to an illusion, and a final selfish act abandoning a wife and child. A life lived in a bubble, the present tense, his own experience, repeating others' mistakes, out of "fandom".

Thursday, February 09, 2017


Not a new story, and this video is from the source. It's funny that no one bothered to look for it. The section I've cued up was posted anonymously a week ago and it's almost got as many hits as the original above.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

LeiterA Dance Dialog between L.A. Paul and Marcel Proust

L.A. Paul, again.
The "discovery" of experience, again.
Drift.

Derrida was a fop but he was right: trying to come to terms with of an ideal of description without prescription.  He read Proust. And now academic philosophers are reading descriptive literature, and not sci-fi. etc. etc.

Monday, February 06, 2017

This post is getting a lot of hits from google over the past few days. I have no idea why.

Thursday, February 02, 2017

"The Watergate Show"

"I think Charles Laughton, he's no longer with us but he would've made a great Ervin.... And Ozzie Nelson is gonna play Haldeman"
Good sharp conversation, and very funny.
repeats: Alexander MacKendrick

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Should You Report a Green-Card Marriage?

Bertram post a response at CT, and adds a comment hours later.
Kwame Anthony Appiah has just blocked me on twitter. My only interaction with him ever was writing this post disagreeing with him. (I had a long term plan to get him to unveil some memorial in Bristol to his grandfather Stafford Cripps and to give a talk – I guess I can forget that). What a remarkable reaction.
Appiah never understood cosmopolitanism. It makes sense he'd fail the test.

Bertram makes the simplest -thus most important- argument at the bottom of the post.  He makes it an additional point when in fact it's key.
There’s also the issue of snitching on your neighbours and what happens when there’s a culture of doing so. Sometimes, where specific harms are clear, there’s a duty to do so: child abuse, for example. But the idea that it is a good thing when people go reporting their neighbours for being stoners, for minor zoning infractions or for overstaying their visas….

Immigration is an area where states are increasingly placing enforcement and surveillance obligations on ordinary people. That’s a process that’s gone much further in the UK than it has in the US, though no doubt Trump will learn from May. But this is a bad thing, and it leads to fear, mutual suspicion and the erosion of trust.
A commenter
There’s also the issue of snitching on your neighbours and what happens when there’s a culture of doing so. 
Indeed, cf. the damage this did to large parts of society in East Germany.
serendipity.